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P.C Robert Black's Story

by actiondesksheffield

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Archive List > Royal Air Force

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Robert Black
Location of story: 
Sheffield, Canada, Scotland
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
20 December 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk — Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Irene Bennett, and has been added to the site with the author’s permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

P.C Robert Black's Story.

Irene Bennett

When war broke out, policemen were not allowed to join up unless their Chief Constable agreed, and the one in charge of Sheffield did not. In late 1943, the Sheffield Chief Constable did agree and therefore P.C. Black immediately applied to join the RAF as a pilot.

Not long after the training started, they were sent to Canada for actual flying training, but in the meantime, they did preliminary training in Scotland. One day the squadron was on the beach in Scotland doing exercises. One exercise consisted of one man being carried on the other man's back, kind of "piggy back".

Robert stumbled with another man on his back and the airman being carried, fell awkwardly with his knee digging into Robert's back. Some damage must have been done because Robert could not get up or move at all.

The consequence was that for about ten months, he had to wear a kind of stiff corset from his shoulders to below the hips. His wife Joyce went up to Scotland to be with him for most of the ten months. They both thought that would be the end of his ambition to take part in the war. Much to their surprise, when he had the dressing removed and was declared fit, the Officer sent for him and told him that while he could no longer be accepted for training as a pilot, he would be accepted as a Navigator which Robert thankfully accepted.

Robert went out to Canada to commence training as a navigator in the bomber command in 1944. The training took 6 months which meant it was early 1945 before they got back to England to find out which RAF station they had been posted to and where they would have to report to after 28 days leave. By this time the hostilities were just about over, so the consequence was that he never actually did any flying, as the war was over before he was even posted to a station for duties.


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