The photograph was taken at Tel Aviv Airport in 1947 and shows Harold Parkin on the left and Ted Rowbotham on the right with an unknown comrade in the middle.
- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Harold Parkin, Ted Rowbotham
- Location of story:
- Karachi , Shaibah, near Basra, Jiwani
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 27 June 2005
This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Roger Marsh of the ‘Action Desk — Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Harold Parkin, and has been added to the site with the author’s permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.
In October 1945 I should have been at my daughter's Christening, and was on my way back from Karachi to Shaibah, near Basra, with a Stirling load of prisoners who had been in a Japanese prisoner of war camp.
There were about 30 to 35 men, and they had to sit on the floor of the plane — there were no seats for them. They were in a terrible state; they looked ill, and very thin, and I remember thinking, "Oh, these poor blokes."
After an hour's flying, we had an engine failure, and the Stirling would only lose height flying with 3 engines. We should have had 4 engines. After a while, trying to keep going and trying to keep power up with the three engines, there was the danger of losing another engine with overheating, and crashing into the sea.
We had to make an emergency landing, and get rid of some of the weight in the plane, which meant jettisoning some of the fuel. The British ex-prisoners were sitting on the floor of the fuselage of the plane, and through the window they saw the fuel, which was being jettisoned to make the emergency landing, vaporising and thought the aircraft, was on fire. They were terrified, especially after all they had been through, and were on their way home. I sent an engineer back to them to tell them everything was o.k., and we would be landing within half an hour. Then we got a signal through from Karachi, to make an emergency landing at Jiwani, a sand airfield (only used for emergency landing). There was nothing there, except for an American NAAFI, where I remember buying lots of tinned foods, stuff that was rationed at home, to bring home for the family.
Whilst landing, I saw my first mirage. All the living areas, which in fact were at the end of the runway, appeared to be in the middle of the airfield in a large pond. I’d heard about mirages, and realised that this is what it was, and carried on with the landing procedure.
We landed safely, and the next day another plane was sent to pick up the ex-prisoners, to get them home as soon as possible. We, however, were left there for another couple of weeks holiday, and as a result, my navigator, Ted Rowbotham, who was going to be my daughter's Godfather, and I, never got back home in time for the ceremony.
Ted never actually met my daughter Judith, but on my Golden Wedding Anniversary, in 2001, he was invited to the event, and he finally met his God-daughter.
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