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15 October 2014
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Good Idea, Bad Idea

by Genevieve

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Peter Dawbarn
Location of story: 
Warmwell, Devon
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
21 June 2005

I didn’t stay as a Flying Instructor for too long during the war; I got fed up with it, and applied to go back to a squadron after about 12 months or so. I went back to a Hurricane squadron down in Devon- Warmwell.

That was a funny squadron because they were using them to test things. I remember the first one I had to go on. They’d put a huge cannon underneath the Hurricane; a great big thing it was. In Lulworth Cove they’d got a couple of tanks; and they said ‘go to Lulworth Cove and have a shot at one of these tanks’ (you could only shoot one at a time.) Anyway, I got down to about two hundred feet and pressed the button. There was a hell of a bang, and the Hurricane stopped dead in the air, and shook its wings. I flew back and said ‘I’m not doing that again, it’s dangerous!’ The flight commander said ‘don’t be silly, I’ll go’, and he came back and said ‘I’m not doing that again!’ So the squadron leader said ‘well I’d better go and have a go’, and he came back and said ‘nobody’s to do that again!’ So that was abandoned.

The other thing they told us to do after that is take big rockets, four under each wing. Told us to go out at night over the sea, as low as possible, (but keep out of radar) and if we saw any German ships - fire at them. Well none of us knew how to tell the difference between a British ship and a German ship in the dark; but we never saw a ship at all the first time, so we came back. The next night they said ‘well go out, and if you don’t see any ships, fire into the sea because we want to know what’s happened’, so we went out that night and we fired into the water, and the whole place lit up for two or three hundred feet above the sea, and you suddenly became completely blinded; for two or three seconds at least — it was quite frightening. So that was abandoned too.

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Becky Barugh of the BBC Radio Shropshire CSV Action Desk on behalf of Peter Dawbarn and has been added to the site with his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

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