The end of 1954.
I was pleased to unpack and settle down again in my own room in Block 163. I brought back with me from my wanderings a further selection of village pennants
to add to the string of them already adorning my window pelmet. I had better
explain that, whereas it was popular to collect beer glasses or beer mats of the
different German breweries, and there were many, I, as did some others, decided to
collect village and district pennants. These would be far easier to pack when time for
a posting came. These pennants were usually triangular and bore the name of the
place and, if any, its badge or coat of arms. Some collected as many as they could
find, and swapped them as would stamp collectors. For my part I only collected
those of places which I had personally visited on my travels.1
The work on the runway, when we arrived back, was far from finished but a goodly length was available and safe to use as an overshoot area. Many trees had
been felled and that end of the airfield looked vastly different compared with how it
was when we left. There was some concern as to whether all the work would be
completed before the winter frosts set in.
life settled down very quickly. The familiar cry of "Else's" was heard in the crew room again. This indicated that someone had thoughtlessly left a packet
of fags around while they were flying or elsewhere, whereupon these would be
handed round among all smokers present. It paid to be careful. It is probably true to
say that more care appeared to be taken of cigarettes than of safety equipment
(parachutes and Mae Wests), for these were often left lying around rather than tidied
There was one noticeable difference: a cupola had been built on the front of
Flying Wing Headquarters. This formed an extension to Hammer West's
From it he could now see all flying activity without having to go outside as
previously. Similar extensions were built for the Met Office and for Air Traffic
Control. Our Air Traffic Controllers, Flt.Lt. Love
, and Flying Officers John Grice
, now had a Tower to work from, rather than, as previously,
working 'blind' from the caravans at the back of the building. This was, in the
opinion of all concerned with flying, an overdue improvement. The caravans,
though, were still available for use should the situation, or an exercise, so demand.
The onset of winter weather affected our flying schedules for the rest of November. I flew two high level battle formation
and tail chase sorties on the 16th
and then the weather clamped in. Ground training was resorted to, and both
training and historical films were watched. In one of these, dealing with the period a
few weeks after the 'D' Day landings, there was a sequence showing a convoy of
wagons moving forward. In that convoy were two of 'my' Thorneycroft 3-tonners.
Their number plates were clearly legible. That sequence was wound back and reshown
several times to make sure I was right.
On November the 22nd, the last day of the month on which I was airborne, I flew with others from the Squadron
in an old Anson Mk 12 on a liaison visit to
Wildenrath. The flight, with me seated, without parachute, on the main spar and
Warrant Officer Powell
at the controls, took almost an hour and a half of grinding
deafeningly through the atmosphere. In a Sabre
it would have taken 20 minutes at
the very most. At Wildenrath we visited the Sabre
Technical Training Unit. It was a
1 The collection continued to grow until I eventually left the RAF. They existed for many years afterwards and are
now in the possession of a relative.