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15 October 2014
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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Walter Reginald Jones
Location of story: 
Swadlincote,Various RAF bases.
Background to story: 
Royal Air Force
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
17 June 2005

This story was submitted to the People's War site by Kathy Brady of the CSV Action desk on behalf of Walter Reginald Jones and has been added with his permission. The author fully understands the sites terms and conditions.

In September 1939 at age 14 I was working for Salt Brothers in Swadlincote earning 10 shillings a week.I remember when war began,the sirens going off all the time.Salt's had their own fire watch,so I joined it.I worked in the shop until 18.30pm then go on watch all through the night.Women would take the 1st watch which was from 18.30pm until 22.00pm.There was me and a man called Harold Albet and we looked after 3 shops.One night in 1942,whilst I was on fire watch, a bomb fell on Baker Street and the blast from it blew out windows in a lot of the shops in Swad.When the workers got to their jobs the next morning it was a sight,and a lot of clearing up had to be done.I remember the blast blew the windows inwards at the fruit and veg shop,there was glass all over the produce.At Salt's they had a brand new lorry that was used for deliveries etc;but it was commandered for the war effort.I had to take rolls of Lino and a yardstick on my bicycle and deliver anf fit it at local houses. In late 1941 I joined the Swadlincote 1211 Air Training Corps.We used to meet in Hastings Road,and the Adjutant was Mr Wroughton. At 18 I volunteered for the RAF,as I had always fancied flying,and was called upin April 1943.My 1st posting was to Kinloss in Scotland,but I was sent to Blackpool for 6 months on a mechanics course.Back in Kinloss we had a visit from Mr Hugh Trenchard who was Chief of Staff of the RAF.In February 1944 I was posted to 1st Squadron 97 Pathfinder at RAF Coningsby near Boston in Lincolnshire.It was a very busy time for us,and once in a three week period we lost 3 of our planes over Germany.It was late 1944 on a particular starlit night when our planes were returning to base,when a German plane,that must have followed our lads back,started shooting up the airfield.A bullet missed me by about 5 metres(hence the title of my story).On May 5th 1945 our company flew to Dortmund in Germany to pick up POW's.We were given sick bags to take on the plane as some of the men we would be picking up had never flown before.We were also given sweets to give them,It was a very emotional time for them and us.Three times we flew from RAF Lyneham on these mercy missions. On August 1st 1945 Japan was still at war our Squadron flew to Okinawa to fight,but never got round to doing so as war was over.We sailed into Liverpool on August 15th on leave,and had a great time in port.I was then posted to a camp near Swindon,Dakota Transport Command,and in February 1946 flew to Bari in Southern Italy to transport 'bigwigs' around the Middle East.We stopped off in Bordeaux in France and luckily for us,one of our lads was from the Channel Islands ,so spoke very good French.Whilst in Italy I made some very good friends,and during some of our leave,we visited Rome and The Vatican City,which was marvellous. Our Squadron was then sent to Kabril in Eygpt.We were stationed near the Suez Canal and would go swimming in it,because it was so hot.We were there for about five months when we were moved to El Adem in Tobruk.One particular day a plane landed at the airfield and a chap got out.Imagine our surprise to see Douglas Bader.As it was our job to get ready the plane for take off,he came over and spoke to me and my fellow machanics.We were the sent by train tio Alexandria travelling along the North coast of Africa,and then to Liverpool aboard the Orduna,we landed in port in April 1947.
On May 1st 1947 I went back to Salt's to resume my civilian job.I worked there for 43 and a half years and the shop was shut down.

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