- Contributed by
- Martin Berner
- People in story:
- Martin Berner
- Location of story:
- Background to story:
- Royal Air Force
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 16 June 2003
My career in the The Royal Air Force
While I was working at the Cockspur Street branch of the Bank I volunteered for aircrew service in the RAF (which I did as soon as it was legally possible - at 17 1/2) and I actually achieved this on Saturday January 16th 1943 when I cycled to Croydon, the nearest recruiting centre, and volunteered as a Pilot in the R.A.F. I believe that this was something of a shock to my parents and it may be significant that at this time Mother resumed her diaries [on January 17th 1943, in Volume 7] after a lapse of over ten years. Looking back, I can se what a shock it must have been to know that I was to become a pilot, with a strong possibility of being killed or wounded. How should I have felt had one of my daughters put herself in harms way like that? But all I wanted to do was to fly and thoughts of danger were far from my adolescent mind.
I left home on Tuesday, February 16th 1943 for “destination unknown” — in wartime everything was kept secret — but I phoned Mother from St.Pancras Station to tell her that along with seven others I was off to Cardington by the noon train. There I was put through the Selection Board to see whether I was suitable material for pilot training; not everyone was acceptable and a good education and eagerness to serve were looked for. I was selected and had a medical at Cardington the next Friday, the 22nd which I passed and then after being sworn in, I was placed on deferred service until I was eventually taken into the Service in 1944. The reason for this was that aircrew losses had not been as heavy as was anticipated and there was a surplus of us at that stage of the war — something which probably saved my life, but about which I was very unhappy at the time! Mother was very apprehensive at my selection for pilot training and would much have preferred me to be ground crew.
The actual dates and places were recorded by me on a slip of paper just after the War as; - “February 16-18 1943 Took medical and aptitude tests at Cardington, Bedfordshire“ This was the former base for airships, including the ill fated R100 and the R101 which I saw from my school balcony and there were enormous hangars to accommodate them.
Having been sent on deferred service, I returned to the Bank, until May 20, 1944 when I was called to active service and reported to No3 Aircrew Reception Centre at St.John's Wood. This was actually a block of luxury flats at Regents Park (Viceroy Court) not far from the Zoo and which we pass on the bus each time that we go to the Zoo. From here we were all kitted out, given more tests at Lords cricket ground and put through swimming tests (at the swimming baths near Whiteley’s) before being sent off to further training in our various categories, Pilot, Navigator, Bomb Aimer, Gunner, Wireless Operator etc. I had volunteered as a Pilot but was obliged to change to the “PNB” scheme [Pilot, Navigator, Bomb Aimer] as this was compulsory — the alternative would have been to be released and conscripted into the Army — not my wish.
It was on my birthday, June 13 1944 when I was nineteen that we all watched the first of the Flying Bombs or "buzz-bombs" (so called because of the noise they made) pass over whilst being shot at by the Anti Aircraft guns. It was a hot summer and we were sleeping on double bunks in what had been the living room of one of the lovely flats with a veranda looking out over Regents Park. I had actually put my “biscuits” [mattresses in three square sections] on the veranda to sleep and before night fell we heard the characteristic drone of a V1 and saw it flying low over London and headed North over the Zoo. We all thought that it was an enemy aircraft which had been shot down as the guns were firing at it and we saw it nose down and disappear before a cloud of black smoke rose up behind the trees. We cheered, but learnt later that it was really a pilotless aircraft, loaded with explosive, which had fallen to the North of us.
I passed the various tests as a Pilot and was pleased and proud to have achieved this, as it was not easy to do because the surplus of aircrew meant that standards had been raised. One particular test was to sit in front of a machine in the Long Room at Lords Cricket Ground, which had a joystick and a cathode ray tube in front of you; a spot of light moved at random across the screen and the task was to keep it centred by using the joystick. A very primitive device by today’s standards but new in those times.
We had our inoculations, at [I think] the White House, near Regent’s Park and for the first time I had to line up with shirt off and arm akimbo awaiting the needle. I found that the apprehension was enough to make me feel quite faint and one or two men did pass out!
Soon after I was sent [in July 1944] to No24 Elementary Flying Training School at Sealand, near Chester on the Wirral Peninsula, immediately South of Liverpool. Here we were put through Grading School, a short period of pilot training to see whether we really had an aptitude for flying, and to assess our suitability as pilots. The aircraft were Tiger Moths, or DH82A’s, a single engined two seater, open cockpit biplane built by De Havilland. I see from my Log Book that I first flew with the RAF on July 3rd 1944 and flew solo on July 19th, 1944 It took me eleven hours instruction to solo, which wasn't bad going. I managed a total of about eleven hours actual flying at this unit (after deducting taxying time) and our flying took place from a grass field called Little Sutton of which I recall little except the farmhouse at the edge of the field which we had to descend over to land. Luckily we all managed to miss it!
I have since found that this field still exists and has reverted to farming although I believe that a blister hangar still remains there, used as a barn. This I learnt through e-mail contact with someone interested in genealogy who lives close by.
In August 1944 I was notified of selection for pilot training [which pleased me greatly as only a few were chosen] and posted to No. 40 Initial Training Wing at Newquay, in Cornwall where we spent about twelve weeks learning how to be airmen and the elements of flight theory and of navigation. I have memories of being billeted in one of the seafront hotels in a room that was dismal and gritty, and of standing sentry duty at the entrance to the Hotel. I tried to recognise it when we visited Newquay in the 80’s [to see Dorothy] but could not do so. While my course was in progress the unit was transferred to Stormy Down in South Wales. This was quite an effort and meant a special train to take us all there. Stormy Down was a wartime RAF Station and we were in Nissen huts there. It was also an Operational Training Unit for Wellington bomber crews. By this time there was a surplus of aircrew since the number which had been recruited was in the expectation of higher losses than were experienced, and our training was thus that much more rigorous as a higher wastage rate than originally planned could be tolerated.
. After ITW I went to ACDC (Aircrew Dispersal Centre) at Heaton Park, Manchester where I arrived on December 1st 1944.
This was a camp where aircrew were held between courses and postings. It was in rainy Manchester, in the middle of a Park and was not at all comfortable — we were in Nissen Huts again - and bitterly cold in winter. Whilst at this camp we were told in a lecture on bombs of a new and very powerful bomb being developed in the USA. This was what turned out to be the atomic bomb, then quite unknown.
From here we were sent out on detachment to various places to do all sorts of odd jobs. I remember going to North Weald, which had been a fighter base during the Battle of Britain, on December 9th 1944 from which point we were bussed each day to London where we helped sort the Christmas mail at the Mount Pleasant parcel depot of the Post Office. We had all volunteered for this duty in the expectation of getting time to spend with our families in London but this was not permitted at first and there were some angry airmen at Mount Pleasant! I did get home though and managed to do so on December 9th and 10th. Of course, the attraction was not just home but also Joy, with whom I spent much of my time. In fact I spent Boxing Day at Pinner with Joy and her family. I recall being ill at ease and not enjoying myself in new and unfamiliar social surroundings, playing some party game. Adolescence can be very miserable!
While I was at North Weald I had a bad cold and “went sick” and had a rest, which allowed me to walk round the field and look at the aircraft. I was allowed to sit in the cockpit of a Hurricane and pretend that I was flying it! I also saw a Flying Fortress (a B17) of the US Army Air Corps which seemed to have landed there in difficulty as North Weald was not its home base and it had clearly been in action as there were bullet holes in it and when I surreptitiously crawled inside I found that there were empty cartridge cases all over the floor by the entrance where the waist gunners operated. (The US Army Air Corps later changed its name later to “Air Force” and adopted a blue uniform instead of khaki, just like the RAF).
The plane was quite badly shot up in various places and as I said, the mid-section was full of empty cartridge cases from the machine guns, which threw out these sizeable chunks of brass as they fired. These guns were .5" calibre (i.e. the bullets were half an inch in diameter) by contrast to the standard machine gun calibre in the RAF of .303" and the cartridge cases were large to me. I used to have a collection of cartridge cases as well as bomb fragments and dummy 20mm canon ammunition but I think that my Mother must have thrown them out when I was in Jamaica, for I never found them when I returned home after my parents death.
All very thrilling for this small boy, which is what I was even if I was really over nineteen. All I was interested in was flying and aircraft, the horrors of war and the prospects of being wounded in the air just didn't sink in at all as they do now. Truly, one's perspective changes with age and experience.
Another detachment was to No 35 Maintenance Unit at Heywood in Lancashire. Of this I have little recollection except of large hangars full of all kinds of stores to do with aircraft, including some enormous tyres and rubber dinghies.
In January 1945 I was for a time at No 14 Armament Practice Camp at Warmwell where the theory was that we would get some flying time in North American Harvards and Miles Martin Martinets which were being used as target towing aircraft. These planes, previously two seat trainers, were two seat single engine monoplanes and the passenger in the back seat would let out a drogue - a long sleeve of canvas about the size of a plane - on the end of a long cable.
The fighters, which were practicing their marksmanship, would then proceed to make attacks on the drogue, which had to be winched back in and dropped over the airfield at the end of the runs so that the bullet holes could be counted. This was the theory, at least but the practice eluded me because I was never called on to fly as a target tower, much to my disgust. It was at this camp that I found, to my surprise, that the Flight Commander was the young man who had been our laboratory assistant at school before the War. I suppose that this kind of reversal of fortunes was not uncommon in wartime but it gave me a little shock at the time.
I hoped to get home at the end of January but could not get leave, and then at the last minute I was able to do so and went home to find Freda [my cousin in the ATS — the women’s branch of the Army] home as well as Joy. I was home again on February 11th, until the 20th and was able to celebrate Joy’s seventeenth birthday on February 18th. My Mother was very fond of Joy, wrote a poem about her and would have been very happy had we married. I was still at Heaton Park on March 9th when I got 60hours leave and turned up at home. Leave passes were always issued in hours, a 48 hour pass was normal and one had to return by 23.59 or be in trouble. I was complaining at the long wait for the next phase of my training — as training facilities were being closed down there was a wait for courses. By March 22nd I was on embarkation leave in the expectation that I should go to the USA, Canada or South Africa for flight training and Mother was busy entertaining us and Joy’s parents. Joy and I walked over the Downs from Epsom to Headley that day.
I left home on March 26th from Euston station but by March 29th I had been taken off the draft and would be sent to Wolverhampton instead of overseas. While I was disappointed not to be going abroad, I was delighted to be posted No 28 Elementary Flying Training School at Wolverhampton where I joined No 20 War Course and started flying on April 6th 1945. This was IT - I was going to learn to fly after all! Here I acquired my Log Book, [Form 414 — which is still the number for a RAF Log Book] which I am still using and trying to fill! The airfield, a grass field of circular shape [so that take-offs and landings could be made in any direction according to the wind rather than with hard surface runways which would dictate the direction] was next to the Boulton & Paul factory at the edge of the town and I believe that it had been the Municipal Airport before the War. It was more like a pre war flying school (which I believe it had been) than the RAF in some ways and I thoroughly enjoyed my short time there. We lived in wooden huts, and since grading school at Sealand had been issued with the full kit of flying clothing (which meant a second kit bag to carry around) and wore the aircrew under training white flash in the front of our forage caps. When Jennifer was in the UAS she wore a similar white flash under her cap badge to show that she was aircrew under training — how little things change in some ways!
We were flying Tiger Moths again - the De Havilland 82A - which I had learnt on at Sealand and my first flight took place on April 6th 1945 although I seem to have been flying in something well before that as I wrote home to say that I flew for the first time since Grading School on February 24th and nearly threw up. My flying career with the RAF ended on May 28th 1945 by which time I had flown for a total of 67hrs 20min. of which 23.40 were solo, plus a further 8hr15min Link Trainer time.
The Link Trainer was a simulated aeroplane in which one could practice flying, especially blind flying without possibility of crashing. It made a fortune for its inventor, Ed Link, which he later used to finance underwater discovery, in Jamaica and elsewhere.
In March 1945 Mother was commenting that she might not see me for a year or more and this was because [as I said above] I was on embarkation leave preparatory to going overseas to continue flying training. The Empire Air Training Scheme had training fields in Rhodesia, South Africa and Canada and there was another similar scheme in the USA. At these fields there were Service Flying Training Schools, which introduced the pilots to the North American Harvard or AT6, which was a two seat low wing monoplane which had characteristics close to those of a fighter plane. Alas, I never got to fly one and now, sixty years later, I can’t afford to fly in one!
In fact, I was twice sent on embarkation leave and each time the actual posting overseas was cancelled at the last minute. At the end of the SFTS training one was awarded one’s brevet — the coveted wings — the one thing that I wanted more than anything else in the world. Alas, I never qualified and am not entitled to wear the RAF wings. I have contrived my own wings from a 1930’s RAF cap badge, which looks well, but is not the real thing! What is so absurd is that no one knows or cares about this except me and I could well sport the full RAF wings, but that be to pretend to something that I did not achieve and would not please me
The war in Europe ended on May 8th (on the 16th, I first flew at night - I did three hours dual that night). This was VE day - Victory in Europe - and VJ day [Victory in Japan] did not come until August the 15th. (My Father, George's birthday) after the atom bombs were dropped on Japan. Naturally there was no further need for aircrew on the scale on which we had been trained and almost all flying training stopped. The only way to continue was to agree to a peacetime short service commission and this I didn't want to do, so I had to await my turn for discharge, which was based on a points system awarded on length of service and, I believe, type of service. So, off I went again to ACDC Heaton Park in June 1945 to the same old Nissen Huts in the park. These Nissen huts were made of half circles of Corrugated Galvanised Iron about twenty-five feet wide and which accommodated some thirty men. Heated only by a coal stove in the centre they were bitterly cold in winter but I suppose that they did provide easily erected shelter for troops. Later on, when at Mildenhall I invented a bed warmer of a light bulb inside a tin which made a great deal of difference!
On June 30th I was again sent on leave as there was no decision about embarkation and On July 31st I telephoned home to say that I had been given nine days leave and was going to spend it with Joy and her family at St.Leonards, a seaside town near Hastings. It was whilst I was there that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima on August 8th followed by one on Nagasaki. I returned from St.Leonards on August 11th and I remember that it was during this holiday that Joy first showed that we would not remain together. Japan surrendered and August 15th was celebrated as VJ Day — George’s 54th birthday.
I was at home on leave on July 10th 1945 and went with my parents on a short holiday at “Lark’s Gate” a small house at Dockenfield, a village near Farnham. My Mother adored this place and badly wanted to buy it and retire there. George was a little less enthusiastic and in the end it all fell through. Joy came along and the only photograph that I have of her is one taken in front of this house.
I was still based at Heaton Park but seem to have been given frequent leave as I was home again on August 28th. I used to hitchhike to London and back most of the time as the railways were very crowded and expensive and I actually spent my twenty-first birthday hitch-hiking home! Most of the time motorists and lorry drivers were very willing to pick us servicemen up and I don’t recall ever being passed by for long.
. Once again I was sent on detachment, firstly to No 21 Operational Training Unit at Moreton in Marsh in the Cotswolds. I remember it as bitterly cold. We had to turn out at 2am once to shovel snow off the runway in order to allow some Hurricanes to land. The C/O was named Belcher and in the Officers Mess stood Belcher's Bar, not that I would have known it, but on one festive night the lights in the Officer's Mess failed and the driver of the Coles Crane (which had a built in generator) and I were instrumental in restoring light that night - for which we were rewarded with a 48hr pass i.e. two days leave. I believe that the same Belcher ran his own pack of otter hounds; he seems to have been a man of parts.
Of course, as a humble "Erk" or A/C 2 (Aircrafthand second class) I had no contact with the officers although I had been through the Officers Training Corps at school, qualifying with Certificate “A” and had I remained in the RAF to complete my training I should undoubtedly have been commissioned. Incidentally my pay as an aircrew cadet was 7/3 per day. For you readers who don't remember shillings and pence that was seven shillings and threepence, equal to 36.25 new pence or "P" . A startlingly low rate of pay, and yet it included 3s. per day flying pay ! Even on that low rate, I still managed to save a little money, about thirty pounds, with which I bought a motor bike, a Calthorpe 350cc single cylinder machine
My last detachment from Heaton Park was in early September 1945 to No 263 Maintenance Unit at Stanstead Mountfitchet. This airfield is to the North of London and quite close to Bishops Stortford. It is now one of London's airports but in those days the runway was rather undulating and I do not recall much flying going on, apart from experiments with reverse pitch propellers on a Beaufort (I think). Just what my duties here were I can't now recall, but they didn't last long. However, I do recall that having boldly claimed that I could drive, I had been allowed to drive a truck briefly elsewhere and here I talked myself into a job driving firstly an enormous fork lift and later a little flatbed truck called a Karrier Bantam. I really taught myself to drive here because when I saw the fork lift [an enormous Clark machine] I persuaded the driver to let me try it and when he was posted away I replaced him. Actually I had no drivers licence for anything bigger than a motor bicycle but the Clark was easy to use and I remember that when I wanted to show off I would put it in the middle of a hangar, lock the steering over to one side and jump off to leave it going round and round. When I had had enough I would run and jump on again.
The Americans had used the base during the war and rather than take back with them all the equipment and spares which they had accumulated, they dumped it and destroyed it. I spent a lot of time searching the dump for usable articles and was successful in finding many useful things — I had an aircraft spark plug on my motor bike very quickly!
I was home again on Saturday September 15th 1945 — I had taken my motor bicycle to Mildenhall and enjoyed the trip to London and back on the Sunday. Again, on Sunday September 30th I was home and leaving to return to Stanstead. Home again on October 6th 1945 on nine days leave. Home on Sunday November 18th and returning to Stanstead. Home again on Saturday November 8th. Returned to Stanstead after Christmas on December 27th 1945. but was home again on nine days leave on December 29th, returning on January 8th 1946. Home again and returning on Sunday January 20th. Back to Stanstead again on Sunday 10th February 1946. At home on Saturday February 16th — went to see Bill Mace [RAF friend] at Hampton Court on Monday 18th and was still at home on Friday February 22nd returning to Stanstead on Tuesday February 26th. Back home again on Friday March 1st, Saturday March 9th left again Monday March 11th
I had a little joke at the expense of the C.O. when he made a hut inspection. We had cleaned up and in the coal bin I put a piece of paper on which was written “This Bin Is Empty”. When the C.O. lifted the lid of the bin we all held our breath — the accompanying Corporal nearly had a fit but the C.O. said nothing and passed on to the next hut. I was home again on Saturday October 20th for the weekend
On March 3rd, 1946 I was posted again to No 27 Aircrew Holding Unit at Bircham Newton, for twelve days to try to recover my flying clothing; the whole kitbag had gone astray in a posting and was never recovered, then to CRC (Central Remustering Centre ?) at Eastchurch from March 16 to 23rd. Here I think that I must have remustered as a trainee Electrician; I was given a brief posting to No 254 Maintenance Unit at Balderton, near Newark, which lasted from March 24th to June 19th
On Sunday March 31st 1946 I left home for Newark. Home again on April 13th and April 26th and again on May 6th — this time on leave — returning to Newark on Sunday May 12th.. I was home on June 8th when I received my birthday gifts and cards as I should not be home on the 13th and I left on the 10th to return to Newark. However, I did return home on the 13th, having hitchhiked from Newark to South Mimms and then come by Green Line bus.
On June 18th 1946 I came home as I was being transferred to Melksham - my posting was on June 20th 1946 to No 12 School of Technical Training at Melksham in Wiltshire.
This was home ground in a way as I had often passed through Melksham on my bicycle rides from Marlborough. Here I trained as an Electrician II, then went straight on to take the following course as an Electrician I. I see from my paybook that I was re-graded from U/T Pilot (i.e. Pilot under training) to Electrician II on October 29, 1946 and to Electrician I on March 25th 1947. These were Trades, as they were known. My rank had originally been AC 2 on enlistment and remained so until I passed the first Electrician's course with good marks and became a LAC or Leading Aircraftman. When I took the second course my rank dropped back to AC 1 and did not rise to LAC again until August 1st, 1947.
On July 6/7th 1946 I was home again. That month in a letter to Mother I described how I had had to drill a flight even though I was not an NCO (Non Commissioned Officer). My longer service than most of them and my time in the Officers Training Corps gave me an advantage and I enjoyed the experience, which I can remember and visualise now. [vol16 p104] I was at Melksham on Sunday September 8th when I returned there with books and papers for my Institute of Bankers exams. On Thursday October 31st I was on ten days leave having completed my Electrician group I course. Out of 121 men, only four passed out with over 80% and were promoted to LAC at once - I was the top of these. I went on to do the group II course .
On December 21st I was at home putting up a table in my bedroom for my radio gear.
Home on January 4th and back to camp the next day. Home again on January 25th 1947 and back the next day. In February weather was very bad and there wasn’t enough coal to heat our huts properly. I made a bed warmer from an electric lamp in a tin. We were all sent home on February 21st as there wasn’t enough food for us! March 2nd I built a short wave converter to work into the BC 348 (an American aircraft communications receiver which I had “acquired” from Moreton in Marsh) and it worked first time! Back to camp that day.
I was posted to No 3 G.M.S.U. at Mildenhall at the end of my Electrician Group II course and arrived on April 13th 1947. I can't remember what the initials of this unit stood for, could it have been General Maintenance and Servicing Unit ? Whatever the name, we were occupied with the maintenance of Lancaster and Lincoln bombers and I became very familiar with their electrics, to the point where I actually designed a shield for the Ground/Flight switch which in the Lancaster and Lincoln was above the main spar in a small crawl space: it occasionally was knocked "off" by someone crawling through which upset all the electrics in the plane.
The officer in charge of my section was Flt.Lt. Newman and he did give me the opportunity of flying with him from Mildenhall to Donnibristle as his Navigator in a Percival Proctor in late June 1947 and wrote about this to Mother who recorded it on June 27th.. This was on an exercise in which he was supposed to be conveying despatches on a communications flight. Donnibristle is a R.N.A.S. Station on the Northern shore of the Firth of Forth and I had the pleasure of seeing the Forth Bridge from the air. Home on July 5th and back to Mildenhall on the 6th.
On Friday July 18th 1947 I was successful in bidding for a motorcycle and was home to ride it the next day. Mother christened it the “Red Dragon” and I rode it back to Mildenhall on the 27th. On Friday September 12th 1947 I was soaked to the skin riding home from Mildenhall and arrived home with shoes squelching with water and remarked “It’s so good to be home where it matters how you feel” much to Mother’s pleasure. I spent the 17th with George unfreezing the front forks of the motorcycle which were rusted solid. I took my driving test on September 22nd, and passed [motorcycle only]. I collected Mother from Dorothy’s home at Dorking on the motorcycle and brought her home, which she describes as “a nerve straining experience”.
I was home again on Saturday September 27th and again on October 3rd on a 48 hour pass just in time for Mother’s birthday on the 4th. — forgot a gift and went out and bought flowers which saved the day!
In September I had taken an exam in the RAF and heard on October 24th that I had passed with 82% and was to go to Chigwell for an oral test. Back to Mildenhall by bus on October 26th — not enough petrol [which was rationed] to go on the bike. To Chigwell on November 18th. Home on December 8th. And again on December 16th from Chigwell after a practical test., returning to Chigwell on December 18th and back the same day having passed the test. At home December 23rd for Christmas — shopping for radio parts with my early Christmas presents of money from George and Mother.. I was to have my demobilisation medical on return to camp.
De-mobilisation was in full swing and men were being released from the Services in rotation by Groups. I was Group 60 and a long way down the list for demobilisation.
Mildenhall was a peacetime station in the Fens of East Anglia, a part of the country which is very flat and bitterly cold in winter. We were housed in brick built barrack blocks in reasonable comfort and although there was some spit and polish, parades and PT it wasn't too bad. The Americans had been there during the war, as they had been at Stanstead and in both places a great deal of material was left behind. I salvaged some electrical and electronic gear, including a very nice power supply. I suppose that "salvage" was a polite word for stealing, but there was so much waste that my small contribution can have done little harm!
Leave seems to have been freely given and I was home on Tuesday April 22nd and taking my Economics exam at the old Circus Place branch of Barclays Bank D.C. & O. I was also home on Wednesday May 14th when I took my Radio Amateur’s examination at Wimbledon Technical College. Also on Saturday May 17th Home again on Friday May 30th and telling of a flight in a Lincoln. I was home again for my birthday on June 13th.
I spent more time at Mildenhall than at any other station, nine months. In my 3yrs 8mths of active service I served at sixteen different units, and twice went on embarkation leave for training overseas that never came about.
Home again January 4th and on Friday January 16th to the Bank for an interview, the result of which was that I was to start work there again in March at L 275pa. In and out of the house on Sunday January 25th and there on the 27th. Home on February 8th , February 27th.
In the end I left the Service on January 26th 1948 at No 101 Personnel Dispersal Centre at Kirkham, complete with gratuity and chalkstripe grey "Demob" suit with a matching [almost] felt “pork pie” hat.. I remained on the Reserve until I was discharged completely on March 1st 1949 by reason of living abroad - by then I was in Jamaica.
So ended my military career. I was a lucky man for had I achieved my ambition to fly in combat I could well have been killed or wounded badly. As it was, I was shielded from the air raids that made London a terrible place to be in and I was always well enough fed, certainly as compared with the civilians. I led a healthy life with no worries and I was able to run my motor bike all over the place in spite of the petrol rationing. To say that I had a good war may sound callous but it was true for very many people and some made a lot of money, legally or illegally out of the war.
I used to have a collection of cartridge cases as well as bomb fragments and dummy 20mm canon ammunition but I think that my Mother must have thrown them out when I was in Jamaica, for I never found them when I returned home after my parents death.
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