David K Waters
- Created: 11 November 2013
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David K Waters
We received this biography from Pam who's Father David a Hull Lad wrote it of his time throughout the war. Pam gave us permission to use anything we could extract from the document on the website as a tribute and in recognition of his service to this Country. Upon reading the biography I knew at once that nothing could be left out and that it would have to be published in its entirety. Pam and her brother Nigel kindly donated photographs of David which we show here along with his unedited biography. At times you will laugh, at times you will feel dismayed but as they always said "theres a war on" and they got on with it. Our thanks go out to both Pam and Nigel for allowing us to reproduce Davids Biography in its entirety.
"We joined the Royal Force as Volunteer Reserves before the outbreak of World War 2 as weekend flyers:-
Unfortunately so many of these men did not survive the war. I shall alway consider it my greatest honour to have flown with such a superb unit of men."
HULL TOWN CENTRE MESS RAFVR.
In September 1939 we had 211 Members under training
131 Pilots, 86 Navigators and Wop / Ags
Types Of Aircraft I Flew During 1939 - 1945
Harvard North American Fairy Battle.
Whitley IN, & V Wellington IC Wellington III Blenheim I
Blenheim 1 V
Airspeed Oxford Avro Ansoi
Miles Master 111
Miles Master 11
Miles Mari net
Spitfire Li, 4 IX
De Havilar de Mosquito
Royal Naval Walrus
I Commenced flying with the RAF Volunteer Reserves in early 1939. However I must confess that I was a very ordinary average pilot. I was certainly no hero, but I did seem to have more than the average gift of luck.
I first decided that I would like to fly with the RAF in 1938 following Chamberlains visit to Germany to sign the so-called peace treaty with Adolph Hitler. We used to see a lot of the cinema news reels. As any father had been on the Somme in 1916, I must confess I was not very enthusiastic about joining the army. I did have some friends who had already started flying at Brough and they suggested I join them. I was 18 years old and working in the offices of 5. Ranks Ltd. flour and provender inillers in Clarence Street, Hull.
Newland House today
I applied to join the RAF at Newland House on the Beverley Road in Hull which was the RAFVR Town Centre. Following the interview I was rejected as a pilot as they said there were no vacancies but suggested I apply as a Navigator, I refused but was informed that if any pilot vacancies came up they would let me know. Some time later I was sent an application form requesting various information on my education, background and also asking for references. Later I was sent a railway warrant for me to attend a medical board and interview at RAF Hendon North London. A few weeks after this test I was told to report to the Town Centre in Hull to be measured for my uniform and swear allegiance. It was a good scheme as we joined as sergeants and got paid for attendance.
It was early in 1939 when I was told to report to Brough to start flying training. Most of this took place in the evenings and at weekends, quite apart from the two weeks summer camp which our employers were encouraged to allow. There was quite a lot of theory which we did at the Town Centre every week and it was a treat to go to Brough to start flying in the Blackburn B2s. The advanced pupils were flying the Hawker Harts and Hinds. I remember so well the first evening 5th of May 1939 that I was told to report for my first flying lesson. It was a perfect early summers evening, I was introduced to my instructor F/Lt Allison who showed me over the biplane B2 L6892. He carefully explained what the different controls were for and how to fit and use a parachute. He then told me to hop in and sit beside him and after strapping in we taxied slowly across the field down-wind looking at the wind sock. We then turned into wind after looking all round for other aircraft Allison opened the throttle and as the aircraft gathered speed I noticed the nose dip forwards the tail lifted, we bounced along gathering speed and we were soon airborne.
We climbed to about 1000ft, it was a wonderful sensation for me as I had never flown before. Allison then told me to take hold of the controls and feel how responsive they were. You push the control column forward and the nose dips you pull it back and it rises. You push the rudder pedal to the left and it skids to the left. The same with the right foot, if you use the ai'leron, which is also controlled by the column at the same time as the rudder, you bank instead of skidding. His advice was treat an aeroplane as though you would a horse, which I always found good advice.
What a wonderful view an airman has as the River Humber looked like a silver ribbon and the fields no larger than pocket handkerchiefs. On the first trip he took me over Swanland where I lived with my parents. The houses looked like dolls houses and the people so small. I could see my family waving. After about 25 minutes flying which I enjoyed so much we circled the airfield and came in to land. My instructor told me to come for further lessons and on Sunday had a further three. By then I was doing approaches and landings, different turns and stalls with and without the use of engine, and basic flying exercises.
The following weekend I was taken up and shown how to spin and recover, I can't say I enjoyed that very much, but later
realised how very important that exercise was.I had 16 lessons in the first three weeks and completed a total of
9hrs SOmins. By now I was doing circuits and landings and was taxing round for another when my instructor lindid his
straps and said I was on my own. I was quite shattered at the time especially when I heard one of my friends from Ranks
yell out "he's going solo get the fire engine and ambulance out". However completed it thinking all the time my instructor
was with me telling me what to do. I was quite pleased when I did a good three point landing and the instructor said every
thing went well.
It was a great summer for me in 1939 as my instruction improved and my solo trips got longer, flying to Bridlington Flamborough and over the Yorkshire Moors. I also flew over the West Riding area. I particularly en joyed the map reading exercises. On one of these trips Sqd/Ldr Stockbridge told me to fly him to an old disused airfield called Sherburn-in Elmet I don't think it had been used since the first world war as it was then being farmed. We landed right behind a farmer and his team of horses. The Squadron Leader was meeting some officials from the Air Ministry who were surveying the site to ascertain whether to re-open it as an airfield.
I completed a full two weeks camp in August so increasing my flying hours on B2s to 56. By the end of August 1939 things were looking decidedly bleak with Germany and I found it quite a job to concentrate on my job at Ranks.
On the third of September we listened to Chamberlain inform the Nation that we were now at war with Germany. On the following day all the VRs congregated at Newland House, in uniform wondering where we would be posted. This seemed to go on all day, day after day with nothing happening. After several weeks groups started to receive their postings mostly to Initial Training Wings, most of these being at seaside resorts on the south coast. My own posting came on the 30th October. We had to go by train to Bexhill-On-Sea in Sussex. One of our party missed the train, and chased us to Doncaster in a taxi, he joined the train when it stopped at Doncaster Station and told us that the taxi fare had cost him £5 which was a lot of money inthose days as my own wages at Ranks was .£1-17-6d per week and I had been with them almost four years!
When we arrived at Bexhill there were large numbers of Volunteer Reserves, Auxiliaries and members of the University Air Squadrons. Our group was billeted in the Sackville Hotel which had been stripped to the boards. We had trestle tables, bench seats and wooden chairs and were given three pall'iasses each. There were three or four men to each room, and the beds were as hard as boards. We had to be on parade at 6-30 am in vests and shorts and did P.T. until you nearly dropped, a corporal took took us and persistently shouted and bawled at us.
Breakfast was at at Eight o'clock if you could eat it, and the COs parade at Nine o'clock. We often got bawled at on that especially when someone had shinned up the flag pole right over the Sackville Hotel and hung a jerry on it.
We had route marches often on the double and many a time doubled all the way to Hastings and back. We often met a large contingent of RAF Volunteer Reserves from No3 ITW Hastings, they had Len Harvey the heavy weight boxer as their instructor, so maybe we were lucky.
After an hours dinner it was usually sand bag filling on the front and then lectures and accasionally instructive film shows. After the evening meal you did not feel like doing very much other than writing letters, listening to the radio and going to bed. We stayed there for just over four weeks before being informed we were being moved to an advanced flying unit. We had a farewell party and chucked most of the NCOs in the sea as we thought they needed cooling off a bit.
I and several other Hull pilots were posted to No 2 S.F.T.S. at Brize Norton in Oxford. We arrived there on the 3rd December. It was a relief to move into the sergeants mess with its much improved food and accommodation. I remember that first night as they were flying North American Havards, the prop noise from the aircraft was ear splitting and it went on all night.
David with a Havard
David in flight
I was told that I would be flying Havards and those that did not fly single engine aircraft flew twin engine Oxfords. We had a lot of studying to do as we had to get our wings whilst there.
On the 12th December I was introduced to my instructor who gave me my first flight in a Havard, it seemed a mass of instruments and controls compared with the B2 and I wondered if I would ever fly one. But soon found they were nice to fly and not noisy for the crew inside the cockpit. It did seem strange sitting on your own in front and your instruct& was in the rear he communicated to you with phones.
I think what concerned me the most about these machines was the very strong smell of petrol, retracting the undercarriage and the apparent fast landing speed. We soon knew that we
were doing advanced flying as we had to spin, do all types of aerobatics, flying blind with a hood on. Altitude tests and emergency landings with and without the engine. At the same time swat for the coming wings exam. You also had practical flying tests undertaken by very strict examiners. If you did not come up to their standard one was taken off flying. You also had to do two or three hours per week on the Link Trainer.
I went solo on the Havards on the 8th of January after 8 hours dual. On the 23rd February I started night flying and did several circuits and landings with my instructor which was pretty scary as the flare path was very dim owing to the war time restrictions. On my second night trip we did three circuits and landings and then he got out and told me to do three on my own.
One of the pilots in the flight was called Stanley Lock, we saw a lot of each other as we were both billeted in the same block. He told me his family were farmers. He had a great sense of humour but was often getting into trouble by our instructor and was even threatened with being taken off flying, especially when he took the GPO telephone wires down with his undercarriage on the aerodrome perimeter when he came into land one day. In 1940 Stanley was flying in the Battle of Britain and was decorated several times, I understood he shot down about 20 enemy planes before he was shot down himself. He is on record as being one of the top scorers in that fatuous battle.
Early in March we sat for our wings examination. 1, was shattered when the results came through and discovered that I had failed on navigation. Several others had failed but they let us sit it again in a few weeks time. I got my wings on the 18th March, and had them stitched on my uniform in minutes. During the following two months we had very intense flying exercises both by day and night. These included drogue towing, gliding and night landings without a flare path using the aircraft lights only.
On the 8th May our flight was moved to a bombing and gunnery school at Penross in North Wales. When we arrived we were dismayed to find the pubs were shut on Sundays and even the local people did not approve of us flying on the Sabbath. I think they forgot to tell Hitler.
We did all types of gunnery and bombing exercises which included high level, dive bombing and low level on all different types of approach. I enjoyed these exercises as we used the I lib. smoke bombs and you could always see your accuracy. We stayed there for about ten days before returning to Brize Norton.
Soon after getting back I was moved to No12 Q.T.U. at RAF Benson to start operational training on Fairy Battles. This aircraft was a large single engine (Rolls Merlin) Bomber-Reconnaissance plane carrying the pilot and a Wop/Ag [Wireless operator air gunner], it proved a very un-popular machine in battle causing many casualties.
When we first arrived at Benson we were involved in trouble as the NCOs would not allow us in the sergeants mess, we had to eat in a but some distance away, the food being sent to us from the sergeants mess. This was not on, as the meals were always cold. One day the duty officer received a plate of dinner when he asked if their were any complaints. The sender was immediately put on a charge so we all decided to go sick. As we were doing very intensive flying and there had already been one fatal accident the Medical Officer immediately grounded us all. All hell broke loose and soon the news reached the Air Ministry. We were all in the sergeants mess that night!
We had to do a lot of very tight formation flying and very low level below tree top flying. The formations were so tight that often one touched the tail of the one your wing was in. I was trained to spray poison gas as I suppose they thought it may be used. We we had special gas cylinders fitted and had all the protective clothing. We also had to go into the gas chambers with the different gases in. On these exercises there were sections on Salisbury Plains that we had to spray with different coloured dyes. On one of these trips some officials were watching us and when I did my run the valve stuck causing the spectators to get the full spray. I was not very popular.
Almost at the end of this course I had an accident which put me in ho'spital and saved me from going to the pool in France and onto operations with the BEF. The Battles were now being used to strafe German troops as they crossed France and the casualties were horrendous.
I consider myself lucky as I was leading a formation of of Battles at tree top height when suddenly there was a bang as a connecting rod smashed through the crankcase of the Rolls engine in my aircraft, allowing the hot Glycol to pour into the cockpit. I was smothered and did not remember anything as I lost consciousness and struck some trees and crashed. My gunner who fortunately was not hurt pulled me out and apparently ran with MC as he thought the plane would catch fire. I was taken to the RAF hospital at Halton and was still there during the evacuation of Dunkirk.
While I was in this hospital I saw the true horrors of war as many very badly injured crews were coming in from France. One pilot had all of his limbs off. They had a type of basket pram and you could see young wives pushing their husbands round the grounds, most of them had no legs and the burns were dreadful.
When I was discharged I returned to Benson for a short while and then posted to Abingdon No 10 OTU for a short conversion on Whitley bombers. I moved there with another pilot from Hull called Walter Ward. We were first given tuition in an Avro Anson as we had not previously flown twin engine machines. We both spent the most part of a day doing circuits and landings and general flying. The following day I was taken up in a Whitley, it seemed enormous compared to the types I had flown. I had five trips that day with different pilots and the following day went solo. After flying for some time I landed and was told to take it to the dispersal point. As I was being marshalled through a narrow space I followed instructions to swing round and the tail plane knocked down a post and damaged an elevator. I was not blamed for this mishap.
We stayed at Abingdon for five weeks and did a lot of flying on types which included the later Whitley 5s fitted with Rolls Merlin engines. On the 8th of August Sgt Ward and myself were posted to 77 Squadron at Driffield. The Whitleys for squadron were operated and dispersed at Cotton' and Cowlam. This did not seem a very large field for Whitleys particularly when they were fully laden as it was in a hollow and quite narrow. There was a wood at one end, however we were shortly to appreciate keeping our bombers there. The Whitleys based at Driffield apart from from our own being serviced, belonged to 102 Squadron.
A Whitley bomber
I mostly did local flying for the first couple of weeks getting familiiar with the Whitleys and local geography.
On the 15th August at about 1-30pm I was in the sergeants mess with Walter Ward, we were listening to the radio having just had our lunch, when the air raid sirens went which we both ignored as we had been informed there would be a rehearsal after lunch. Almost immediately there was a deafening row outside. We both jumped up realising it was the real thing and rushed to the entrance. It was a squadron of JU88s they were bombing and machine gunning anyone in sight. We ran out looking for a shelter someone yelled to us to get down which we did just as a 750 kilo bomb dropped in front of us. When we got up there was a huge crater in the place we would have been had we kept running. We were told afterwards that we escaped as we were so close and the blast went over our heads. Unfortunately a young girl WAAF who was in front of us appeared to lose her shoe and as she bent down was killed.
We eventually dived into a shelter and the next one to us received a direct hit. The damage done was extensive as 102 squadron lost 10 Whitleys there were about 16 killed and the drome was badly damaged. The Duke of Gloucester visited us that evening just as our CO was having roll call. These JU88 bombers were from a Dutch base they were KG30 Aldler Geschwader latest aircraft.
We were told that Spifires from 616 squadron and Hurricanes from 73 squadron had intercepted the JU88s and shot seven down and that three had crash landed. Two or three nights later a lone German plane came over and destroyed our last hanger and hit the sergeants mess which had survived the day raid. A bomb fell on the car park and damaged many cars and a motorcycle I had bought new just before the war. At the time I was in my bunk fast asleep when the first bomb dropped and my windows were blown out. I cut my feet when I jumped out of bed. I managed to get to a shelter with some iliore staff it was pitch black and we could here the German plane who apppiared to be doing some very accurate bombing. We could also here a constant ticking which was nerve racking as we all assumed it was a time bomb. We dare not get out of the shelter until someone came and told us it was all
clear. The ticking was caused by the windscreen wipers that had started on the damaged cars. The bombing on this raid was so accurate on such a dark night that our CO suspected a fifth column member was possibly signalling near the airfield and he informed the guard to shoot any light on sight.
Fortunately none of our aircraft had been damaged at Cottam. Shortly after these raids the two squadrons were
evacuated to Linton-On-Ouse, 77 squadron was dispersed to a field at Tolthorpe.
I did my first bombing raid on the 13th September 1940, and a further five before the month end. One of these was a raid to Berlin and as we were taxing out to take off the main wheels sank into the soft ground and could not move. It was pouring with rain Tolthorpe was waterlogged. We tried to get out with our engines and all the time we sank further down. The control tower told us to switch off and they would send a tractor. _
While we were waiting outside the aircraft a Whitley from Linton crashed taking off and exploded as it was fully laden. Our crew had climbed out waiting for the assistance apart from the rear gunner who did not know what was happening. He truly thought we were airborne and when the engines stopped and the machine from Linton blew up near us, he called us on the intercom and got no reply as we were not in and so he thought we had abandoned the aircraft and left him. We saw the turret rotate and the two doors open and he bailed out straight into the mud covered in his parachute. We saw the funny side of it later but I don't think he did.
Eventually tractors pulled us out but as we were too late for Berlin we were told to bomb a secondary target We flew over a German airfield in Holland who were night flying they must have thought we were one of their machines as they gave us a green to land, as we made our very low approach FILL Burbridgc (who was the captain) told me to go down in the bomb bay. I dropped everything we had and the explosion nearly brought us to grief. The aerodrome lights were quickly extinguished and as the guns opened up we flew straight back to base.
For our trips to Italy from Linton we had to fly south to Newmarket race course to bomb up and refuel for the long journey. The Italians were very surprised as they did not think that we could reach them, in fact on the first raids they had no black outs everything was lit up for us what a shock they must have had. On one of these Italian raids we were caught by search lights over northern France. The guns opened up and soon got the range, we were badly bit and caught fire when a shell burst right by the port engine. We managed to get it out with internal nacelle extinguishers. We were lucky to get out of range but with only one engine functioning we had to jettison our bombs, and everything that was loose in order to maintain height. We turned back for home expecting we might have to ditch in the sea as our height was now falling. However we just managed to reach the Kent coast and forced landed near Mans ton.
Whilst we were at Linton-on-Ouse The Battle of Britain started in earnest and Bomber Command were involved in an intensive campaign of bombing the Channel ports as the Germans had been massing a concentration of invasion barges and many squadrons made many return visits. We were assisted with the Home Fleet and approaching these ports was a sight to see as the big guns of the fleet opened up, and the fires on these docks inflicted by the combined forces.
We had good luck signals flashed to us from the cruisers as we made our run in to the targets. Sadly my great friend Walter Ward was reported missing on a raid over Germany. I wasvery concerned as I knew he had suffered severe shell shock from the bombing incident at Driffield. I had the awful job of informing his wife who I also knew very well pre-war Walter was employed by the Distillery Co Saltend.
In the October of 1940 our two squadrons moved to the new airfield of Topcliffe near ThirskWhilst at Topcliffe the squadron started to receive the large four engine Sterling bombers. However I was not one of those converted to fly them.
In late December 1 was posted to the testing and experimental unit at Boscombe Down in Wiltshire with a few other crews. We were attached to the Bomber DevUopment Unit whichwas being formed by the request of the Prime Minister .Churchill. We flew Wel lington bombers and the long and short nosed Blenheims. We flew in the most attrocious weather and flying conditions. Our flight commander was Squadron Leader Tomlin. He was known for his lucky escape whilst flying Whitleys with the B.E.F. in France. He made a forced landing and when he saw German troops running towards them realised he was on the wrong side of the lines and made a very rapid exit.
Whilst I was at Boscombe I was told to fly into London to pick up one of our bomber crews who had bailed out over the city and were at Hendon. I took a Blenheim and was given a route down a narrow corridor to Hendon by the London defence as the balloons were all up.
I landed at the dromc all right and when the crew got in we were like sardines. My take take off into wind was towards a hill and houses. By the time I got half way accross the field I could not get the tail up owing to the excess weight, by then it was too dangerous to abort the take off, so I broke through the wire barriers on the throttles to get an extra 91bs boost to the engines. We took off like a rocket but I had no other choice. This extra thrust is only permitted in an emergency as the engines have to be stripped or changed after such stress. We arrived back safely and there was no problem with the landing.
I stayed at Boscombe Down until late January when I was posted to Noll O.T.U. Bassingbourne in Cambridge to fly Avro Ansons. This job entailed flying both wireless operators and navigators on navigational exercises.
On one of these trips I was flying on an exercise that passed, quite close to London. It was a night trip and the weather was very poor, drizzling with rain making visibility bad. Unfortunately we just crossed the London defence and I was surprised when searchlights caught me and the guns opened up. We were hit with shrapnel but not badly I managed to break away and return to base. I took a very dim view the following night much to the amusement of the crews present when we listened to the news on the radio and the newscaster informed the nation that one enemy aircraft had approached London from the North and was driven off with gunfire.
One night I was on the circuit of the airfield at Basingbournc waiting for permission to come in to land when I noticed that a plane landing in front of me was doing an unusual type of approach. Although it was very dark I could see he was going to miss the runway, and when he did land he appeared to cross over it. I thought there must be something wrong as that would damage his undercarriage.
I landed just after him and on taxing to the dispersal I tried to find out why he had done that. At the time there was quite a commotion round the plane and I was surprised to be told it was a JU88 that had been apparently bombing London and the pilot was trying to make out that he thought he had landed in France and wanted refuelling. I thought that seemed a Ilkley story the crew offered no resistance and it was quite a good prize for us as he had only damaged one of the compression legs.
I was curious to examine one of these German bombers and climbed in to have a look around, but I think the crew must have been very sick at both ends from the putrid smell so I did not bother, possibly one of our fighters had been after them.
I was in London soon after one of the heavy bombing raids, the poor Londoners were getting bombed so consistently. I was in my little sports car with a couple of other pilots from Basingbournc. The buildings still on fire were terrible to see it looked as though the whole city was ablaze, there was rubble all over. We drove right through the West End to Ealing, we appreciated the super fire and rescue services we had.
I did have an amusing incident during one of these raids which I thought was funny but possibly no one else did. I had a date with a nurse and we had been to a show and she had to get back to her hospital in Harrow. The sirens blew and a raid had started so I went to, Paddington Station with her and told her I would travel with her to Harrow and see her safely to the Nurses Home before returning to my unit. We caught the dimly lit train and opposite us was one other passenger, a middle aged crabby man. The train seemed to move in fits and starts due to the heavy bombing raid. After we had travelled for about half an hour the train stopped and the man opposite opened the carriage door and said this was his station and suddenly vanished, it was quite a fall to the track as I helped him back in he, was swearing and cursing the railway company for switching platforms. He opened the opposite side door and stepped out again and vanished. Again I helped him back, fortunately he was not hurt but I saw the funny side of it
and could'nt stop laughing, much to the embarrassment of my companion. We eventually got to his station and Harrow and I returned to my unit.
One thing that comes to my mind is that when ever we had occasion to use any form of public transport in most of the cities, particularly in London, and many of the shows during this time of the war, it was very difficult to pay for these services. We were whisked into shows, and conductors on the transports nearly always missed us even the taxis did not charge.
Coming up to Hull from the South I often came so far in my car and thumbed the rest owing to petrol rationing. The heavy transport drivers used to take us in their cafes for a meal and many a time I had 10 Gallon coupons given to me. What a wonderful Nation of people we had in Britain during those dark days of wartime.
Early in March 1941 I was transferred to No 18 O.T.U. Bramcotc, a Polish Air Crew unit. Several R.A.F crews were sent there to assist them in getting the Poles to know our way of flying, getting acquainted with this country and using the equipment. Most of these men could not speak a word of English when we arrived at this unit which made life quite difficult. My job was to fly these crews on all types of exercises both during night and daylight hours. We flew Anson aircraft and put many flying hours in.
These Poles were very anxious to join a squadron (many went to Lyndholme near Bawty) and told us of their terrible experiences when the Germans and Russians invaded their country they certainly wanted to settle the score.
When I was there I was a duty pilot (airfield control pilot) on the night Coventry got its second very heavy raid. My duty was to control the movement of aircraft by Aldis signal lamp and to lay the goose neck flare path for landing and taking off. On this particular night we had a squadron of Hurricane fighters using the drome for refuelling and rearming, they were coming in and going out all night long. Coventry which was quite close to the drome was being very heavily bombed. 1 was anxious that the Germans should not see my flare path and bomb the airfield. Several Poles went out looking for Germans who may have been shot down, the consequences if they found any was quite obvious.
On the 4th October after lunch I had taken off with a full crew for a long exercise I climbed to about 2000ft and was turning towards the drome from Coventry direction when there was a splintering crash and the plane became violently unstable. I struggled with the controls to try and get it on an even keel and thought that I had struck a balloon over Coventry. The aircraft was pitching so violently that all the crew except one decided to bale out. I automatically switched both engines off and turned the petrol tanks off. I could not and dare not try to bank as the aircraft was so unstable. I gradually lost height and by keeping the machine on a dead straight course I managed to belly laud in a field of cows. I could not get out of the door as it had been januned by one of the crews intercom cords as he jumped out, so I went through the emergency exit in the roof. The other member of the crew was lying on the floor gripping one of the spars which I could not persuade him to release.
When I climbed out I was amazed and shocked to see that half the tail plane and one elevator had disappeared. I went over to a near by farm and asked the farmers wife if I could notify my base and inform them of what had happened.
When I got through they told me they had seen what had happened and that an ambulance was on its way to collect me. They told me that another diving Anson apparently could not avoid me and had struck my tail plane, unfortunately this aircraft was badly damaged and could not recover from the dive, the crew were killed. The pilot of that machine was a very close friend, I was absolutely shattered.
My own crew were all picked up OK but very shocked. The doctor got one of the crew from my plane in a very bad state of shock. None of the farmers cows were touched but I must have frightened them. This was a very tragic experience and a lesson for me. The RAF would have taken a very dim view had they known that I had flown without a parachute. I would have probably been reprimanded but fortunately a friend placed a spare one in the ambulance, and when I got out in front of the senior officers I was carrying it. I must admit I never flew without one again.
I think most of us went through a phase that it won't happen to me And when it does it gives
you a jolt. I had to fly almost immediately after this accident to regain my confidence, and then I was sent on a short leave until the inquest.
My next move was to Not O.A.F.U. at Millom on the West Cumbrian Coast. When I first arrived I was quite taken aback with the Black Combe a 2000ft mountain almost on the circuit. The airfield went right up to the sand dunes on the shore which was mined. We had an Alsation mascot called Danny and soon after I arrived on the unit he became over exuberant and ran into the minefield, and that was the end of poor Danny.
My wireless operator F/Sgt Archie Lang came with me from Bramcote to Millom and we soon got down to a lot of flying. We had a large intake of Canadian navigators who had not sufficient night exercises so night flying was a priority. We did long trips across the Irish Sea to certain turning points from up the Cumberland Coast to the Western Isles, over to Ireland, back to the Isle of Man. Chicken Rock and the Point of Aire were familiar turning points then down to Wales and the Bristol Channel and return. We also did trips into the Atlantic from Southern Ireland and from the Western Isles. I used to think these long sea trips were most rewarding as they kept the navigators busy all the time. We did many exercises across the British Isles as well and on moonlight nights could do a certain amount of map reading, but we predominately did the sea trips. I often saw the Queens leaving Liverpool for the United States, they were lone voyagers.
Occasionally we flew over convoys assembling for the Atlantic crossing. In the winter when the seas were rough as they pitched into the rollers you could see their screws threshing. They were very brave men as the U boat packs were causing havoc at this time. I was very glad to be in the air.
I was flying over the Irish Sea on an exercise one afternoon in an Anson when the starboard engine started to run very hot, followed by a large drop in oil pressure. As it was running very rough I switched it off and feathered the propeller. I had a full crew and was having difficulty maintaining height on the one engine. I decided to make for the nearest airfield, a Fleet Air Arm unit at Campbletown on the Mull of Kintyre. I landed in the early evening and the engineer examined it and informed me that it
would require an engine change, I contacted Millom and asked if we could be collected. But it was to late so we had to stay the night. It was a depressing place compared to our own unit and we were all pleased to sec an Anson landing just after lunch the next day, that had come to collect us.
Some weeks later we had a signal from Campbletown to inform us the aircraft was ready for collection. I was informed that as I had put it there I could collect it, so I was duly flown to Campbletown. I decided to stay for lunch and then fly back. The Naval pilots were doing arrest landings in Seafircs, I assumed they were using on the carriers.
I went to the hanger to collect the aircraft and started the engines, but on trying to starboard engine I realised they had changed the wrong engine. When I rang my base for another collection their comments were unprintable. I never saw that aircraft again and as far as I know it could still be there.
One night I was in the flight office with Frank Tizard, he was the only other pilot from Hull, we were getting ready for a long night exercise. Frank incidentally was a member of the regular Air Force and he also flew in a Whitley squadron in France. On this night he told me he felt dog tired. I told him to get off before me so that he would be back first. It was a pitch black night when I taxied out behind him. He took off and I followed, I completed the trip and when I landed I was asked if I had heard anything from Frank as they had not made any radio contact with base. I was worried particularly when I was told an aircraft had struck a flare on take off and did not really think that was such a hazard as the goose necks were not very big. I decided to have my machine refuelled and said I would go over the course again as it was now daylight Archie Lang said he would come with me. We did a comprehensive search over the whole course but did not see any sign of them. We returned to base very despondent and tired out. And it was some weeks before we knew what had happened.
One day during a very low tide a crew saw some wreckage of a plane about half a mile out to sea from the airfield, and we found it was Frank Tizards Anson they must have struck the
gooseneck and dived into the sea.
I was sent on two or three interesting courses whilst I was at Millom, the first one was to Banbury to Armstrongs the makers of the Cheetah engines.
I soon found out the weather can get very rough over the Lake District. And noticed that this was more prevalent in the late winter and early spring. On one night exercise in April 1943 we were flying on a Northerly course of the Cumbria coast, the weather was very rough with very heavy showers and a gale force wind blowing, When we saw a fairly large water spout a mile or so off St. Bees Head. I was very surprised as I did not expect them to appear as far north as this. Shortly after seeing this we turned due east over the Lakes to the Cumbrian Mountains our height about 4000ft when suddenly the aircraft started to fall like a stone we lost about 1000ft. I knew I was in a thermal current and was helpless, when we hit the bottom the crew were flung accross the cabin. The battery was ripped out and also the radio and all the Navigators equipment went flying. We then started to rise and went up to 4500ft. as though in a lift and being flung out at the top it was quite a sensation. I returned to base as I was worried that it could have done some structural damage to the aircraft. I had often caught thermals before but never one as fierce as that.
We had to fly in very bad weather and heavy snow storms did not stop us. If the runways were blocked with snow, lots of the aerodrome staff were given shovels to assist the snow ploughs, it was always a big operation but we had to fly.
During 1942-3 we were encouraged to cat large amounts of carrots as we were told this would improve our night vision. I think it was quite a national practice. I don't know who thought that one up and if anyone benefited, it certainly did'nt help me. One day I was in the mess just after lunch. It was drizzling with rain and the clouds were down to the ground, when a Flying Fortress flew very low overhead. It was one being flown in from the United States. It flew into the fells just near the the dromc and blew up. What a tragic end for those men after such a long trip.
Several times when I had my leave I used to bring one or two of my colleagues from the Dominions home with me to Swanland. They were usually Australian and Canadian and New Zealand pilots. My parents enjoyed their company and we used to have terrific parties my sister organised. Her husband was also a pilot he had been instructing in Canada and at this time was flying Catalinas from Gibralta. He was later converted to Short Sunderlands and went out to the Far East.
While we were at Millom one of these Australian friends, who used to come home with me, had a remarkable escape with his crew. His name was F/O Arthur Watson, they were on a night exercise over Scotland when the aircraft came to a halt. He told us it was not violent and nobody was thrown about or injured in any way. When it stopped everything was deathly quiet but no one dare move as the aircraft rocked and it was pitch black and in the clouds.
Apparently they had struck the top of a mountain that was dead flat at it's summit. It had ripped both propellers off and scraped along the belly of the aircraft, and come to rest at the end of the plateau. If they had been a few feet higher they would have missed but if lower would have been killed. When they could see where they were they were petrified and were brought down by a mountain rescue team.
My flight commander managed to get hold of an army DUKW and had a Cheeta acro engine fitted on it with the prop in a wire cage facing forward, and we used to take it on the beach and go in the sea, it was all good fun but we had designed it for the purpose of Air-Sea-Rescue in case any other aircraft were ditched in the sea, but I don't know if it was ever used for that task.
The sea by the airfield was a bit dicey as I learnt to my peril. One evening I decided to go for a swim and had been in the water for about ten minutes when I got caught in a current from the Dudden estuary. I was swept out to sea like a cork. I remember being •taught not to panic when in difficulty but I could see the coast diminishing in size at an alarnling rate and I must, admit I panicked and went under. Very fortunately for me someone saw me from a boat and got me out just as I was on my last legs. I never went in gain unless there were several others in, and never out of my depth.
I flew on several searches for aircraft that had been reported missing mostly these had flown into the Lakeland and Scottish mountains. Another notorious black spot was Snaefell on the Isle of Man. I was sent on an air sea rescue course and later went on a blind approach course using radio beams I flew Oxfords on these exercises. We had to land completely hooded. Previously I had done what was called the Lorenze beam course when I was at Boscombe Down, which was one of the first blind approaches used in this country.
Most of the large airfields had a unit test pilot and as the one we had at Millom was leaving I was offered his job. It meant that I would leave the flights and was attached to the engineering department under the chief technical officer. I took this job as we had a flight of Westland Lysanders and had the yearning for single engine aircraft again. I also flew the commanding officers Magister. I had flown about 2000 hours when I was offered the job.
As the unit test pilot I was able to take many of the personnel for flights. I remember a young WAAF asking me if I would take her up as she had never flown. I told her to draw a parachute and I would take her for a flight in a Lysander, I told her which one to go to and went to sign the form 700 which had to be completed before every flight. Whilst I was away she tried to climb into the cockpit with the assistance of the ground crew and slipped, she had a ring on her finger and it took her finger right off. After that I made a ruling that I would not take anyone up if they wore rings.
One afternoon I took an Anson on an engine and airframe test after a major service, and it was perfect. I passed it on to the flights and a crew took it on a navigational exercise. Within
20 minutes it blew up killing all the crew right over the town of Whitchaven. As it was suspected that the fabric had split all the Anson aircraft were grounded for inspection. I took another on test and while I was doing the airframe test an engine cowling blew off and cut a big hole in the wing. I saw the fabric tearing and decided to belly land on the drome as it took so long to wind the wheels down. I landed it all right without doing very much damage.
I was fortunate that I got on very well with my commanding officer. He offered me promotion and asked inc if I would like the job of personal pilot to the group Air Vice Marshal but I was not keen. He then told me that the Central Gunnery School at Catfoss wanted a unit test pilot and as it was so near home and they were flying Spitfires, Beaufighters, Mosquitoes, Masters, Martinettes and Wellingtons and also Percival Proctors. I thought it would be good experience for me. He put my name for the job and I got it.
I came over to Catfoss on the 5th May 1944 and then my troubles started. When I first arrived I was not well received as they were all fighter pilots including the CO, and I was a rank outsider. When I went into Brandesburton Hall which was the officers mess I was hung on the harness pegs in the main hall by the back of my pants and had pints of beer chucked over me. I had my tics cut off at the knot, and my footprints were put on the ceiling whilst my feet were still in my shoes. They certainly gave me some stick but I could take it.
Most of these escapades I took in good spirit and then got on with my job. My senior officer was Wing Commander Scholcy and he gave me my own office and staff.
I very soon took to the Spitfire and was expected to fly in weather that no one else would fly in and often did the early morning weather test in shocking weather to find the cloud ceiling and wind conditions. It was a very gradual process but I slowly gained the confidence expected of me.
I think of all the types of war plane I'd flown the Spitfire was the perfect gem, it was easy to fly and had no vices. I flew the very early models to the Mark XV1 with the Rolls Griffon engine.
When I was incorporating the airframe test I did what was called an Ailoron Upfloat test which meant flying at a minimum speed of 400 mph and measure the amount of lift on the ailorons at these speeds. There was a scale mark on the side which you could see from thecockpit. After finishing this manoeuvre it was almost second nature to fly into an upward roll. I can only remember two anxious moments in Spitfires. One was when a tyre burst, and the otherwas in an early model when the undercarriage got stuck when lowering it for landing. It was suggested I take it up to a suitable height and then turn.it,over on its back and whilst you are hanging upside down supported only by your straps then use the lever. The weight of the undercarriage was taken off the locks and you could then release the locks. It was quite tricky but it worked but while being in this inverted position some spanners hit the hood, they must have been left in the well by the riggers.
One day I was taking a Master up for a test with a fitter as passenger. We were waiting just by the intersection of the runways for a Mustang to land, I was watching him coming in and when he touched down he bounced and swung towards me. As an aeroplane is not quickly responsive to the throttle I yelled to my passenger to get out. I undid my straps and leapt out of the cockpit complete with parachute and ran like hell! (in the control tower they said they had never seen a pilot in full gear run so fast). And reckoned I did a four minute mile. I looked round just as the Mustang hit my machine they were both completely wrecked. The fitter was still getting out when he was flung clear.
Fortunately neither my fitter or the other pilot was hurt but the pilot was court marshalled for wrecking a United States fighter and our own Master as he apparently had no business to be flying the Mustang and had asked an American pilot if he could have a go.
One afternoon I was the only one flying due to runway repairs when a high ranking army officer came into the camp with his staff and asked if they could be taken to Manby. He was told by the Station Commander that as I was the only one flying they could ask me if I would take them during one of my tests.
Unfortunately he had a staff officer who was not very polite in his request and gave me a lot of advice that I did not need or take kindly to.
However as I was testing a Wellington I agreed to take them. I landed them at Manby and the Captain had another go at me telling me exactly what time I was to return. I explained that I had several machines to test and would collect them as soon as I could. This did not appear to suit the Captain and I started to get annoyed.
I collected them as promised the Colonel sat beside me and his staff went into the back. I then took off and flew over the mouth of the Humber telling the Colonel I was going to complete an airframe test. I put the Wellington in every manoeuvre I could and was astonished to see how my passenger enjoyed it especially when he saw that his staff were sick.
When I landed the Captain reported me to my CO who laughed especially when the Colnel said he had enjoyed it and explained that I had a job to do.
A few days later we had the most awsome thing over Catfoss.The runways were still under repair and a Wellington (not one of ours) circled very low over the field with smoke pouring out of an engine. It caught fire and very soon was a mass of flames, it turned and flew right over the hanger. It was terrible to see as there was nothing we could do to help them and they were much too low to jump out. It crashed on the perimeter and exploded. It made me feel sick there were five crew in it, and they just did'nt have a hope of survival.
I had a close escape in a Wellington one day when I was'nt even airbourne. I had the chocks
in front of the wheels and was running the engines up for a pre-flight test check, and had the starboard engine on full throttle when there was bang and the revs suddenly dropped. I looked at the engine and noticed that the main propellor shaft was white hot so I immediately throttled back and switched the engine off. I got up and told my crew that there was a fault and they were looking very pale as I was amazed to see inches behind me where I was sitting in the cockpit. The fuselarge was cut almost in half. Apparently a Martinet that had been towing a drogue must have had some winch trouble, as it fell on. the Wellington and the hawser wrapped round the shaft and did so much damage. The comprehensive training I had on the Lorenze Beam at Boscombe Down, the course I did at the blind approach school at R.A.F. Station Watchfield. In addition to all the time I put in on the Link trainer (mostly under the tuition of the well known Austrian glider pilot Mr. R. Kromfeld). All this training was certainly to my advantage. Also in conjunction with this training, and the appalling weather conditions we flew in at Boscombe and the navigational exercises at Millom, must have given me a lot of confidence under severe stress.
On the 7th January we had a signal to take 10 Spitfires down to a pike near Birmingham where we had to land in a field which was quite longbut.narrow. A Wellington would return us to Catfoss. All the pilots were volunteers on this job as ifliad to be done late in the afternoon.
When we set off the weather was pouring with rain making visibility very poor indeed.
soon ran into some very violent storms with the rain pelting down, I estimated a course and had to fly blind most of the journey. Occasionally I could see ground and was able to pinpoint my position. When I arrived near Birmingham the weather improved and I soon found the field and landed. There were some officials waiting to receive us who told me I was the first to arrive. I waited for about half an hour and as no one else arrived I rang through to Catfoss to be told that some had returned to base and the others had landed at other dromes. I was the only one to get through but they expected the Wellington which was coming from the South would pick me up. It eventually arrived and the pilot was surprised that I was his only passenger.
We took off and soon ran into the weather that had caused all the trouble. I was sitting with the navigator and as we approached the Humber the aircraft appeared to be flying at a dangerous angle so I went to the pilot who said he suspected his giros were faulty which was affecting the turn and bank instrument. I did not believe this and as I considered that he was flying by the seat of his pants which can be very dangerous. I asked him if I could take over which he willingly agreed. I soon got the plane stable and flew low over the Humber after breaking cloud and landed at Catfoss. We were both well aware that I was not supposed to do this and could have got myself into trouble, but to hell with protocol it was my neck.
This same pilot did a very stupid thing later on when he tried to slow roll a Wellington a believe he had been drinking) which could have easily killed himself. Before attempting this manoeuvre he was seen and did considerable damage to the machine.
He was court martialled and put under arrest and I was one of the officers detailed to escort him until his court martial. He was discharged from the service.
I was involved in a couple of Court Martials. In the second one I was asked to defend a pilot who had struck the sea and damaged the aircraft. His charge being endangering his crew and wilfully damaging one of his Majesty's aircraft. He was an NCO and lost his rank and got 90 days in the glasshouse. I don't know why they asked me to defend them as I was hopeless when it came to arguing with a Kings Counsellor who always did the prosecutions.
On the 10th of June W/Cdr Scholey who was the chief technical officer asked me if I would fly him to Llandwrog with two of his staff where they would be staying over night. I would not take any flying crew as he wanted me to stay with them. They were engineering officers and the VC was my boss.
I decided to take a Wellington as we had one ready for a routine test. The weather on the day was shocking it was very dull with drizzle and the cloud was down to about 200ft. I was a bit concerned as I had no radio operator. I took off and soon was in the thick cloud with driving rain. I decided to climb to 3500ft and steer a course for Blackpool. We had flown for about 45 minutes and the weather was getting worse all the time the rain was heavier and I could sec static glows round the two props it was also much darker. I flew a bit longer hoping to be over the Irish Sea so I could descend and break cloud as I was not sure where I was.
I knew if I was a bit off course to my port side I could be near Welsh hills and on my starboard was the Lake District and if I flew to long could reach the Isle of Man. I must admit I was getting in a sweat as none of my passengers could assist me, I had seen so many aircraft that had flown into the mountains which made me feel a lot worse. I flew on for a little longer and then decided to reduce height, visibility being absolutely nil. I came down to 3000ft then 2000ft, then I000ft and still could see nothing. I was getting very worried and only hoped I was over the sea. I reduced height to 800ft 600 and still nothing, I put the nose down and at 4401t at last broke cloud and I was bang over the centre of Liverpool, it must have been a shock for the people in the city as I came right down to just above the buildings. Fortunately for me as the weather was so bad the balloon bararge was hauled down. We flew straight towards the bay along the coastline to Rhyle, Colwyn Bay flying at about 50ft then to Llandudno and down the Menai Straight. It was still pouring with rain when I landed at Llandrwrog. When I got out I felt like kissing the ground, but my W/Cdr took me for a welcome drink. I did tell him if the weather did not improve I was all for going back by train.
Sometime after this trip I was having a meal in the mess and someone said they fancied kippers and I thought what a good idea! In fact we all agreed that Manx kippers were the best so I rounded up a few volunteers and took a Wellington and flew to Jurby in the Isle of Man and we got a van to fill up with crates at Peel, and had them loaded on the Wellington and we came back to Catfoss.
The CO would not have been very pleased if he bad known about this, and when I was asked when the Kipper Kite was next going for further collection, I had to shut them up.
In mid 1945 we were using mostly Spitfire IX which I had been collecting from Brizc
Norton and also Cosford. These were now Maintenance Units and were our collecting points for replacement aircraft.
On the 4th of July I was asked if I would go to Cosford, and bring back to the gunnery school one of the latest Mk XVI Spitfires with the Griffon engine. It was a delight to fly although when I took of the pitot head cover was still on (which was my own fault) and consequently I had no air speed indication, but who cared it handled as expected like a dream. I enjoyed my 40 minutes including the acrobatics as I flew over Catfoss on my return. The commanding officer was in the control tower when I came in with several pilots who I am sure were waiting to have a go. I don't think I disappointed them.
We had one pilot at Catfoss that used to handle Spitfires in a way that was quite remarkable, and did many things that I was not prepared to try. One of these was to retract the undercarriage as soon as airbourne, hold the nose down to gather speed then go into a slow roll at the end of the runway, it was most impressive to witness and he did it often. I personally preferred more height.
My wing commander told me later that this same pilot had done the same manoeuver in a Typhoon and it went wrong and was killed instantly. I think it proved you cannot take liberties like that and always get away with it.
I was now flying the Mosquito being one of the fastest approach aircraft for landing I had flown as you came over the perimeter at about 140 mph but one soon got used to it.
I also liked flying the Bcaufightcr you had a very good panorama from the pilots position right up in front. The two Bristol engines were very powerful and it was important you set all your trimmers correctly before take off, otherwise it was difficult to hold. I was told if an engine cut on take off with full power it was virtually impossible to hold.
I was sent to the Rolls factory in Derby for a handling and engine course. It was very instructive and they showed us the big improvements in the Rolls Aero engines that had been developed due to the war. There were several of the Imperial airways pilots on this course.
On two or three occasions in August I was asked to take certain Spitfires down to Portsmouth that were being taken out of service and had to be broken up. They always seemed to fly beautifully on this there last journey. One day I think an error must have been made I was told to take one down and as it was almost new I queried it but was told to take it.
I took off and circled Catfoss and set my watch and opened it up to almost full throttle and steered for Portsmouth. I arrived in just over 35 minutes which was'nt bad for over 40 years ago. I used to wait for a Wellington to pick me up and bring inc back to Catfoss.
One evening during mid summer a message came to Catfoss that a high ranking WAAF Officer who was in Scarborough wanted to get down to Reading and could we fly her. I was asked to do this and as the only plane available was a Martinet. She came to the camp with all her entourage and I wondered how on earth she was going to get in the back of a Martinet which was quite a climb. There were many helpers and the senior staff had come to see her off. She donned her parachute and helmet and was helped in.
It was a glorious evening and I decided not to fly above 1000ft so she could enjoy the scenery on route. I had a mirror and could see the rear passenger and noticed she (lid not,open her eyes during the whole trip. When I landed at Reading there was a deputation waiting for her and I asked if she had enjoyed the trip and she said it was super. (I wonder if it was her first trip) I was invited to stay for a meal but declined as I wanted to get back to Hull.
Later that summer I had arranged to go on a couple of weeks holiday to Bude in Cornwall with a nursing sister whom I had known for sonic years. She had been twice engaged to pilots I had known and both bad been killed When I was at Millom I was taken ill with appendicitis and sent to a hospital nearUlverston. She was in charge of the ward I was on. I met her previously when I was with 77 Squadron and she came to collect her fiancees belongings who had been reported missing on operations.
While I was having my operation she introduced me to her fiancee who was flying at Cark close by and it seemed incredible but he was killed in a flying accident whilst I was still on her ward. I felt so sorry for her.
I arranged to go away after I had completed my tests in the afternoon. In the morning when I .got into my office they told me that I had only one Master, 2 Mosquito's, and 1 Wellington to fly. I completed these four tests and at about 4 o'clock handed my parachute in and got in my
car to go home. When I got half way across the airfield a sergeant fitter ran in front of me and stopped me and asked if I would test a Miles Master that they had been doing some major repairs on. As the flights had been complaining about a vibration in flight. I grumbled a bit but told him to draw me a parachute and I would do it.
He explained they had done some major work as it had consistently been rejected by the flights. When I arrived at the hanger several young ATC cadets asked me for a flight as I often took some up on routine tests, as most of the other pilots were unable to do so. However due to the nature of this test I decided to take the fitter along with me.
After the routine pre-flight check I took off and noticed a vibration which obviously was not cured. I talked to the fitter who was in the rear cockpit and told him to tighten his straps as I intended to climb to 5000ft and find out what the trouble was. When I reached this height I started giving the machine maximum stress as I suspected the airframe. These machines were very good for aerobatics and that is what we were doing. When I got near Fraisthorpe I did five or six rolls when there was a bang and the vibration immediately got very violent. Immediately I switched off the engine and feathered the prop which made very little difference. I hoped my passenger would jump out but when I saw him in the rear mirror he looked dreadful. I managed to keep it on an even keel and called through to base that I was in trouble.
The group Captain at RAF Lisset was in the control tower as a squadron of Lancasters were taking off. He answered my distress call and said I could try for a landing on his airfield.
I steered for Lisset and as I had reasonable control and good gliding speed, I decided to hand pump the undercarriage down and attempt a landing. The green undercarriage lights came on which meant they were locked down. I had turned the petrol tanks off and my gliding speed was 130 mph well over the stalling speed. We glided to about 600 ft when all of a sudden the plane turned over and dived straight into the ground. I just remember a splintering crash.
The Group Captain of Lisset who saw us hit the ground said there was no hope for us as the machine did three somersaults as it was breaking up. He saw the engine fly up into a field about a quarter of a mile away.
The fitter was in another field with all his ribs broken. I was upside down still in my cockpit, When a German prisoner of war working in the field tried to get me out. I remember some of the incident including my back hurting like the devil and a desperate need for a cigarette, which was silly as petrol was all over the place which fortunately for me did not fire.
The ambulance and doctor soon arrived and he injected me and told me one of my eyes had been knocked out of it's socket. He put it back in for me. I was taken to Drifficld hospital and had stitches in a gash over my eye. The throttle bad gashed my wrist, and I had a broken leg. I could not move my legs and it was not until the RAF got a surgeon from Liverpool to come and see me that I knew my spine was damaged.
I was transferred to the RAF hospital at Northallerton where the pressure was relieved and I was told that my 1st and 2nd lumba were crushed. This had made me one inch shorter. I was put in plaster cast for three months and transferred to Hazelrig Hall at Loughborough which was an RAF rehabilitation hospital.
It was a wonderful unit at Loughborough and when I saw the appalling injuries and burns of some of the inmates I wondered why I was there. I was put in the spinal injury section where we were given exercises by Raich Carter who was then playing for Derby County. I used to pull his leg and ask him to come to Hull City when it startedagain and he said he would'nt!
I did see my fitter when he was at Northallerton and he used to come and sec me in a wheel chair he appeared to be progressing satisfactory.
The RAF took a series of photograghs of the wreckage of the Master and gave it a full two page cover in the Tee Emm November Issue which was an official RAF monthly magazine. They emphasized that we survived the crash only because we had our harnesses fastened so tightly.
The wreckage of Davids Plane,
My service release came through whilst I was still in hospital, as the war had now ended my unit was moved to Leconfield where I was discharged. I had been offered flying jobs soon after left but decided I had had enough.
Davids Testomonial upon leaving the RAF
When I was in hospital at Loughborough I made many friends who were recovering from severe burns and injuries. One of these friends was Ken Pipe a New-Zealand navigator. He came home and stayed with us for a few days and made many friends. I recall a little of what he did tell me of how he received his injuries which were extensive.
He was the navigator in a Lancaster bomber over Cologne when it received a direct hit and exploded he thought a shell had hit the bomb bay. He was the only survivor and fell about 15000 ft without a parachute he struck the top of a high fir tree that broke his fall. He said it was snowing heavily at the time and the tree certainly saved his life. Although he was badly injured he found a but and sheltered in it. He was discovered the next morning by a girl and handed over to the police who did not believe his story. The Gestapo came and took him offering him medical treatment only if he told the truth, which is what he did. Ken was burnt with cigarettes he had his nails pulled out and he told me they gave him the heat treatment. This meant being put in a refrigeration room and left shivering for long periods and then being put in a very hot room for similar time, back and forth until he was a complete wreck. He had a damaged spine from his fall. Eventually he was sent to a prison camp without any medical treatment, he had to march with the other prisoners when the Russians approached the camp, he knew if he did'nt he would be shot.
He was eventually released by the Americans and sent immediately to hospital. He went home soon after thewar but unfortunately never got over his experience. He died soon after he got to New-Zealand. He said he would have liked to
come back for a holiday which we all hoped he would.
Pam says of her Dad, David died in April 2003 and up to that date he was very keen to keep the war stories alive. If he had
still been alive I know he would have been very interested in all you are doing here and know doubt he would have