Sport and associated matters.
Super-fitness can be detrimental to the airborne performance of a fighter pilot. Good average fitness is desirable, indeed necessary, for the human body to
withstand the stresses, strains, and 'G' forces experienced when doing tight
manoeuvres in the air. Another aspect is the need to be fit enough to be able to
survive, and hopefully to escape, in the event of coming down in enemy territory.
I never was a lover of participatory sport. I loathed it at school where I was frequently verbally chastised by the PT
instructor for what he reckoned was my
underperformance. I did, however, manage to wield a good stick at hockey and I
quickly discovered that I could exploit this to my personal advantage at Jever.
I found that during my early days with the Squadron
there were sessions in the gym for all of us, basket ball was played competitively, as were soccer and rugger.
Aircrew were not encouraged to participate in boxing contests.
I well remember my first session in the gym. I arrived a little late to find the pilots knocking about with a basket ball. As I entered the door the ball came in my
direction. On picking it up I aimed for the net and it went cleanly through the hoop. I
had never done that before and was quickly nominated for the Squadron
have to say that I never did it again and was just as rapidly dropped!
Soccer and rugger were of absolutely no interest to me, but there was hockey. I had to do something, and hockey it would to be.
The Station Hockey Team, under the supervision of Flt.Lt. 'Kim' Lee
, Station Intelligence Officer, was short of players. I soon found myself having an all-ranks
practice game. After several more such games I was picked for the Station Team
representing RAF Jever. It was generally accepted, provided one was good enough
to stay in the team, that it was a 'good skive' to be able to travel off camp to play
Events happened quickly. Within two days of being appointed squadron MTO
- that's just 31 days after arriving at Jever - I was on my way with the team to play
hockey against various Units located as far apart as Holland and Fassberg.1
We were officially detached from the Squadron
for over a week for our
excursion with the hockey team. Johnny Macknish
and I, with George Hickman
, Plt.Off. Price
, all from 93
(no-one was from 4 Squadron
or the Regiment)
and Kim Lee
were the Officers. The rest of the team was made up with other ranks.
Our first match was against the Royal Netherlands Air Force at the RNAF
Volkel, near Eindhoven. We were guests of the RNAF
and stayed two nights in their
Officers Mess. We had earlier been warned to expect things to be different to the
standard of living in the RAF. On arrival we went to the Mess and were shown our
rooms by a solitary Junior Officer who spoke good English in a disinterested sort of
way. In each of our small rooms there was a fold-up bed, a wash-basin, a cupboard,
and a single chair. Toilet facilities were down a long passage and of a different design
to those to which we were accustomed. On looking for the bar, so as to socialise, we
found no-one about. Eventually, after a search, we found someone to ask what was
going on. It turned out that at weekends almost everyone went home. We were
provided with an evening meal of a plate of ham sandwiches and black coffee. That
was all. Next morning, for breakfast, we were served dry white bread and apple
sauce, with a piece of fruit loaf and more coffee. Lunch was marginally better - we
had a boiled egg with dry black bread!
1 RAF Fassberg was the most easterly RAF airfield in the British Zone of Germany.