- Contributed by
- Jack Arkinstall
- People in story:
- Jack Arkinstall; Group Capt. Bruce; Doc. MacArthur
- Location of story:
- St Mawgan Cornwall
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 11 June 2005
My V.E.Day Celebration
Towards the end of 1944, I asked my Chief Group Copt. Grieves to be relived of my duties as Eng.2. At Air Transport Command Harrow, for a station; he suggested St. Mawgan Cornwall a joint USAF and RAF station. At the time it was reputed to be the largest airfield in the world having a four mile runway and a thirteen mile perimeter track. My appointment was Chief engineer or ‘plumber’ as it was known by the flying branch, of the servicing wing. The chief engineer was Wing Commander Prescott.
With my wife Helen, seven year old daughter and two month old son, we took the night train from Paddington to Penzance changing at Truro for Newquay the nearest station to St Mawgan. There were few passengers travelling westwards and our first class carriage was empty we settled down for the night. The journey was uneventful until the morning where there was one incident worthy of note. The train stopped at various rural stations to pick up workmen, at one of these stations a group of workmen entered and stood in the corridor, one chap more inquisitive than his mates, detached himself from the group, looking into empty compartments until he came to ours. He stared at us for a few moments and then joined his mates. My wife overheard him say. “Them’s furrinners back there”. I was in RAF uniform and yes, perhaps we were foreigners to these parts!
With the surrender of all German forces to the Allied High Command on May 7th 1945. The Commanding Officer of St. Mawgan Group Capt. Bruce, ordered all officers to attend the mess to celebrate our victory. He added that anyone found drunk. A punishable offence, should not be charged, but taken to the sickbay. I spent the day with the Priciple Medical Officer. Doc. MacArthur, and the last thing I remember was a WAAF Officer getting up and dancing on the table. Although I don’t remember it and did not learn what had happened till the next morning, apparently, I made my way round and found my staff car with the intention of heading for home a bungalow on Pentire headland. The next thing I knew was waking up in a cot in the sickbay with a couple of American Service policemen known as ‘snowdrops’ because of their white hats, by my cot. They told me that they watched me speed down the runway then turn and come back along the perimeter track and repeat the performance. When the drew alongside me they said that I was pulling back on the steering wheel as though it was a ‘joystick’. The runway, incidentally, ended at the cliff’s edge! Apparently I protested that I could see the lights of our bungalow and was merely taking a shortcut home. This seemed reasonable enough to me at the time but, evidently it didn’t appeal to the ‘snowdrops! So, they carted me off the the sickbay as instructed. Eventually we were joined by a sickly looking Doc. MacArthur.
It was a night I shall never forget!
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