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The war in the Skies

by Dogsthorpe library

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Contributed by 
Dogsthorpe library
People in story: 
Flight LT DFC King
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Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
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Contributed on: 
09 February 2005

I volunteered for the Aircrew in the RAF on my 19th Birthday- 1st February 1940.

On 4th March I went to Cardington for 3 days of aircrew medical and other tests. Out of 178 applicants just 18 of us passed and were inducted, each of us being given a number, mine was 1467921 and placed on the RAF Volunteer Reserve and given a Silver Lapel Badge to wear.

I was on Deferred Service for 2 years and went to the Aircrew Reception Centre- the Oval on 4th March 1942. Exactly 2 years after being accepted I was in Viceroy Court, Kensington for 3 weeks being kitted out and having injections etc. I went to Paignton for 6 months of ground training, from where I went to a small airfield in Surrey (the name escapes me now) and did flights in Magisters and Tiger Moths and from then went to Heaton Park in Manchester for assessment and Posting. I was then graded for Observer Training. After 17 weeks there I went to Bridge north for Basic Training in Navigation Techniques, Bomb Aiming, Morse code, Gunnery, Star Recognition, etc. From Bridge north I went to No 1 Air Observer School, Wigton, Scotland, commencing my course on 20th March 1943. Training on Anson's, on which we had to manually raise and lower the landing gear, it was 127 turns to wind the wheels up but only 123 to lower them, we never did figure out that one!

Our training was mainly over the Irish Sea and Northern Ireland, i.e. Dungannon, Bally Quentin Point and Loch Ney, which we used to calculate wind speed and direction using the Drift of the White Caps.

I qualified as a Sgt Observer on the 14th June 1943- 15 months after joining. From there I went to Abingdon no. 10- O.T.U to crew up and get operational training. I got together with my pilot and then the 2 of us together collected 5 more men to become our crew. This training was done flying Whitley’s’ and I had my first crash at Abingdon.

We left Abingdon on 2nd September 1943 and went to No 1658 Conversion Unit, Riccall, Yorkshire to convert to 4 Engine Halifax aircraft. This went on until 30th December 1943 and after home leave we went to No 78 Squadron. Breighton, in the East Riding of Yorkshire. From the time of my induction to becoming fully operational and being deemed fit to be trusted with one of His Majesties aeroplanes was 21 months.

My first operation on 20th February 1944 was to Stuttgart and had a duration of 6 hours and 20 minutes, it would have been longer had we not had to crash land at Dunsford. There is an amusing side to this; on our first raid we landed, minus radio and undercarriage on what we found out to be a metal mesh runway. On landing our wireless operator said ‘I hope we are on the right side of the Channel!’ and on emerging from the aircraft we were surrounded by a number of men in dark blue uniforms speaking in a foreign language.

Thankfully it was a Free Dutch Squadron based there, we continued operations and by D-Day we had done 23 operations. On D-Day morning we went to bomb the Coastal Gun Battery at Mont Heud, which dominated the Gold Beach landing area and on the night of D-Day we bombed the German Army HQ at St Lo. We flew a total of nine hours and forty minutes on the one day.

The day after D-Day we took part in one of the worst raids I can remember. We were ordered, on the orders of General Eisenhour, to bomb the marshalling area at Juvisy, which is approximately twenty kilometres south of Paris. In this area was a larger group of 200 German tanks that were being unloaded to go to the Beachheads; we were to bomb from 12,000 feet. Told there would be no cloud and we must under any circumstance do the job, 12 aircraft from the Squadron went out. On arrival we found 10/10th cloud. Being senior crew, the pilot and I made the decision to go under the cloud and do the job properly. On return to the base only nine of us made it with a loss of three aircraft and thirty men.

On completion of our tour of 30 ops we were asked to volunteer to do an extra 10. Of course we volunteered and did in fact do nine more making a total of 39 ops on my first tour. We finished with a raid on Bottrop. One of the more unusual raids was a mine-laying trip to Keil Bay lasting 5 hours 45minutes, half of which we had to fly over enemy territory with four underslung mines and having to have the bomb bays open all the way to Target due to the size of the mins. Another memorable series of operations was three trips in daylight to the Foret De Nieppe in France whihc was a V2 site, ont he 3rd day we breached the defenses and the and the resultant explosion threw smoke up to almost 15,00 feet. Whilst on the squadron in the 5 ½ months was there, the squadron lost 30 aircraft and of course other crew memebrs killed in action. I was commisioned on the 18th of June 1944 as a pilot officer, given a new number 176926 on leaving the squadorn for my 6 month rest period i went as an instructed to Kindor and was promoted to flying officer. On the 8th of December the London gazette carried the notification of an award of the D.F.C.

i was at Kinlors until 17th February 1945 when i voluntered to go for a second tour of operations and went to no. 16 O.T.U. conversion unit at upper Heyford where i crewed up with J/O Scott a Cnadian pilot also a holder of the D.F.C. and we converted to Pathfinder Mosquitoes. J/O Scotts gather was a memebr of the Canadian government. On the 25th March we went to Warboys for P.F.F. training which we passed on 20th of March. Being posted to No 139 Jamaica squadron at Upwood and did a further 4 operations before V.E. Day, being a marker aircraft on the last raid of the european conflcit, which was on Keil submarine pens as a deterent for any submarine trying to escape with any Nazi hierarcy. Form Upwood i went to Woodhall spa No 627 squadron onto Tigerforce which was being built up to go out to the Smith island but were held in abeyance due to the Americans dropping the atom bombs.

On the 16tth of November 1945 I went to Transport command conversion unit at Crosby-upon-Eden and crewed up and converted to Dakotas. On the 19ht of February we went to Syerston for specialised training, which also included Horsa Gliders. On the 10th of March we went to the number 46 squadron transport command. The third of April was our first trip carrying passengers, and I was on the Malta sun as a point of interest to any of you who have recently flown to Malta our trip used to last approximately 8 hours 30 minutes (with a stop over at Tres Le Tube approximately 40 km south of Marseille). Our day commenced at 6 am when we flew from Stoney Cross to Blackbush- now London airport and arrived in Malta at 4 pm. I did six of these trips and on the 1st of June transferred to the test flight whilst awaiting demolition. By this time i had been promoted to Flight Lieutenant. I was discharged on the 16th June 1946 and officially demobilised on the 17th September being placed on AC1 Recall group. Having completed 43 raids, I flew a total of 706 hours and 40 minutes. I also flew a variety or aircraft:

0 Miles Majister
0 Tiger Moth
0 Anson
0 Whitley
0 Halifax
0 Wellington
0 Oxford
0 Mosquito
0 Lancaster
0 Flying fortress
0 Dakotas

On a memorable occasion my pilot and I went into the officers mes after being out the night before. As usual the hat rack had a motley collection of gold braid hats of which we took no notice. On getting to the bar a party of senior officers were standing and having a drink. When we ordered a pint of ale, a quiet voice said ’I will get those for gentlemen’ and much to our surprise we recognised him as His Majesty King George VI who chatted to us for several minutes.

This Ladies and Gentlemen is my story.

Thankyou for listening.

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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 war in the Skies

Posted on: 09 February 2005 by Peter - WW2 Site Helper

..And a very fine story it is, Mr King, I enjoyed every word of it.

Kind Regards,


Message 1 - The war in the Skies

Posted on: 21 November 2005 by motion32

People in story: Flight LT DFC King

I am tracing my late fathers history in WW2 he was also on this the last raid of the war and I would like to contact Flight LT DFC King

Please contact me by this forum or direct at

Dave Wakeford

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