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Five and a Half years in the R.A.F.

by Wakefield Libraries & Information Services

You are browsing in:

Archive List > Royal Air Force

Contributed by 
Wakefield Libraries & Information Services
People in story: 
Ralph Badger Needle
Location of story: 
Lincolnshire; Hong Kong; Singapore
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
01 December 2005

This story was submitted by Christine Wadsworth of Wakefield Libraries and Information Services on behalf of Hilary Quinn and has been added to the site with her permision. Mrs Quinn is aware of the site's terms and conditions

I was born in June 1939. My father Ralph Badger Needle,1022290, went into the RAF in November 1940. He did not talk a lot about all his experiences, but with his Record of Service as Clerk G.D. are letters from RAF friends, friends who kept in touch for the rest of their lives - Corporal Dickie Bird 106 Squadron, Dick Banks, Charlie Martin, David Hughes (the Welsh tenor) and Dai Richards who like my father served under Wing Commander Allen, Gibson, Searby and Baxter.

Wing Commander Guy P Gibson VC had a brown Labrador dog, Nigger, who always waited for his master’s return from the bombing raids. One day the dog was knocked over and died. Guy Gibson flew out on a raid on the Rheydt days later and failed to return. His grave is in Steenbergen where his plane crashed. Wing Commander Gibson of "Dambuster " fame was 106 Squadron's Commanding Officer.

My father wrote the following and it was displayed as an 8ft by 4ft notice in the Squadron Crew Room.

Pilots will be severely dealt with in all future cases of accidents attributed to carelessness.
Offenders will incur punishments varying from loss of leave to heavy fines payable to the Benevolent Fund or both according to the degree of carelessness or damage sustained by the aircraft.
These penalties wihich have the complete approval of the A.O.C. will be strictly enforced and are in addition to any received from higher authority.
Taxying accident: Loss of 7 days leave plus fine of £1 - £3
Landing with wheels unlocked: Loss of 7 days leave plus fine of £5
Over or under shooting: Fine of £1 - £3
You have been warned!

He was the first one to "Count them all out and count them all in" when the squadron flew on sorties.

In July 1945 my father was on his way to Honolulu, Hawaii (Pearl Harbour) and on to Hong Kong. Here, Jackie Mac was their interpreter and he kept in touch with my parents by letter, with his Christmas card every year until 2004 when my mother died. He also came to England and visited my parents. He now lives in Canada.

The Aircraft Museum in Doncaster has some of my father’s memorabilia as does the 106 Squadron Association. The Squadron's crest was adapted from the city of Doncaster's coat of arms.

The following is my father’s Record of Service and gives the places he served, his unit and dates:

Blackpool No.10 RC from November 20th 1940 to February 1941
Sheffield (Brooomgrove Road) 939 Sqdn February 1941 to June 1941
Sheffield (Norton) No. 16 Centre June 1941 to August 1941
Coningsby (Lincs) No. 106 Sqdn August 1941 to September 1942
Syerston (Notts) 106 Sqdn September 1942 to November 1943
Netheringham (Lincs) 106 Squadron November 1943 to January 1st 1945
Finningley B.C.I.S. January 1st 1945 to April 24th 1945
Hednesford 5026 Squadron April 1945 to June 1945
West Kirby 5026 Squadron June 1945 to July 6th 1945
Outward bound on "Empress of Australia" 5026 Squadron July 7th 1945 to September 3rd 1945
Hong Kong 5026 Squadron September 4th 1945 to December 31st 1945
Airborne on Sunderland - January 1st 1946 to
Homeward bound on "Winchester Castle" - January 1946 to january 26th 1946
Hednesford (Staffs) 104 P.D.C. January 27th 1946 to February 10th 1946.

This is the itinery for the outward bound voyage on the "Empress of Australia", in 1945 -
Overseas To Hong Kong or Round the World in 7 Months : Outward Bound on the CPR Liner “Empress of Australia”, 7th July - 4th September 1945.
Itinery of the voyage:

Left Liverpool 10.00 on July 7th

Arr. St Christobel (Panama) 10.00 On July 18th after 11 days and 4, 760 miles

Left St Christobel 08.30 on July 21st after 3 days and proceeded through the Panama Canal

Arr. Honolulu (Hawaii, Pearl Harbour) 06.00 on August 3rd after 13 days and 4,711 miles

Left Honolulu 09.00 on August 8th after 5 days and crossed the International date Line on August 12th. V J day declared August 15th

Arr. Enewetok (Marshall Islands) 10.30 on August 16th after 8 days and 3,150 miles

Left Enewetok 14.00 on August 20th after 4 days crossed Equator 10.00 hours August 23rd

Arr. Manas (Admiralty Islands) 06.00 August 24th after 4 days and 2,400 miles

Left Manas 14.00 on August 27th after 3 days
re-crossed the Equator 15.00 hours on August 30th

Arr. Hong Kong 12.00 on September 4th after 8 days and 1,800 miles

The whole journey took 59 days and covered 16,821 miles.

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