BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

BBC Homepage
BBC History
WW2 People's War Homepage Archive List Timeline About This Site

Contact Us

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Royal Air Force

Contributed by 
CSV Action Desk/BBC Radio Lincolnshire
People in story: 
Eileen Davidson nee Parsons
Location of story: 
London
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
A6042025
Contributed on: 
06 October 2005

The Squadron Leader

In my previous memories I mentioned an Officer who was a very strict disciplinarian. I will not mention his name in case he is still alive! He was a Squadron Leader in Administration, if my memory is correct, and I know he was, or had been, a Conservative Member of Parliament — so I will just call him Squadron Leader.

I disliked him, as did others, and I kept out of his way wherever possible. He used to make us drill in the forecourt of the Royal Albert Hall, and before such drilling he would inspect us to make sure our buttons had been cleaned with button polish that day. They had to be cleaned every day, including the cap badges. On one occasion he made one WAAF and two airmen remove their caps and take their badges out so that he could scrutinise them to make sure that they had cleaned the backs of the badges (which is never seen anyway). They were all then put on a charge — two for not having them shining brightly, one because some of the button polish still adhered to the badge.

No doubt you are wondering what one could be punished for, having done so little wrong. Well, bear in mind that I narrate stories of 65 years ago and there was no such thing as “Human Rights” so one could always be charged with “Conduct prejudicial to the Service”, which in my opinion could include anything petty, small and of no consequence.

Another story, still about the aforesaid Squadron Leader, is one which I love to tell!

Myself and another Policewoman ( we were Corporals by the way) were on duty at Waterloo Station in London. There were two escalators there, one up for passengers leaving the trains. At the top stood two RAF Policemen on duty and checking their notebooks was the Squadron Leader. None of them saw us. Four NCOs, all air crew, came up the escalator, not wearing their caps, wearing their flying jackets with all the buttons undone and one was wearing his flying boots, not finding them very comfortable either. They were about 20 years of age and were a bit “merry” having no doubt had a few drinks “and why not” I said to my colleague. “They could be dead or prisoners of war within the next 48 hours”. Air crew were dying in their hundreds, even thousands. The fighter pilots during the Battle of Britain saved this country and, knowing them as I did, they will always, in my memory, be my heroes.

But to get back to the story, the Squadron Leader met them as they got off the escalator with the two Corporals in tow. My colleague and I kept out of sight. “Stand to attention, take your hands out of your pockets and put your caps on at once”, barked the Squadron Leader. “Take their numbers, ranks and names, Corporal, I’m putting them on a charge”. Suddenly one of the pilots, obviously a trained boxer, hit the Squadron Leader full in the face with his fists — right, left, wham, wham” — just like two pistons coming out. All four pilots were on the downward escalator within two seconds before the Squadron Leader had time to draw breath. “Get after them and arrest them” he ordered the Corporals, but of course by the time they reached the bottom of the escalator the culprits were well away on the first train that came into the station.

“Oh my God” I said “someone’s going to be in dead trouble and it could be us. Quick get over the road to the Church Army before they see us”! When we reached there I said “Now remember this, we were not there, we took our tea break a little early as things were quiet at the station. Sister O’Neill (who knew us ) will remember us being there and she won’t know the exact time and remember you do not tell anyone what you saw”. And that is exactly what we did.

The two Corporals were put on a charge for not protecting the Squadron Leader and for letting the pilots get away. We were questioned but we stuck to our story. I reminded my colleague of the slogan “When in doubt, say nowt”! Sorry reader of this, but I was on the side of the pilots and I hope I have not offended you. The Squadron Leader had black eyes and a bruised face for weeks.

Now, do not get the impression that all the Officers were like those narrated here. It is not so. They varied just as they do in places of work today.

© Copyright of content contributed to this Archive rests with the author. Find out how you can use this.

Forum Archive

This forum is now closed

These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - The Squadron Leader

Posted on: 06 October 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

Eileen

What a story! Great stuff, every ex erk and squaddie will immediately remember types like your Squadron Leader.

Peter <cheers>

Archive List

This story has been placed in the following categories.

Royal Air Force Category
icon for Story with photoStory with photo

Most of the content on this site is created by our users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of any external sites referenced. In the event that you consider anything on this page to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please click here. For any other comments, please Contact Us.



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy