Wing to expect me. I would then, usually in normal uniform and often wearing a
mackintosh and beret, climb aboard the aircraft, wave frantically to Air Traffic who
probably couldn't see anything and weren't watching anyway, start up, and taxi the
mile and a half to the Tech Wing hangar, being very careful to keep a good look out
when crossing the runway in case an unexpected aircraft was landing. It was a good
way to go for an early Saturday lunch.
Winter evenings could be tedious and there was always the temptation to go to the bar. An alternative was to play skittles in the Bowling Alley on the road to the
Mess. It was here also that the camp barber had his room. A new innovation was the
conversion of the Bowling Alley also to act as a .22 target shooting rifle range. We
held competitions, either bowling or shooting, in there on many evenings.
Sometimes it was too cold and cheerless to venture from our rooms where we
would sit and listen to the radio, write letters, or indulge in our hobbies. Some of us,
instead, would occasionally foregather and play cards. Gambling, however, was
We did fly, when ground conditions permitted, during some beautiful but brief clear periods later in the month. The emphasis, again, was on battle formation
ciné quarter attacks
on the flag, tail chases and high level interceptions at which I was
able to further demonstrate my abilities at high altitude long range vision. Although
I had to admit to myself that my headaches were beginning to affect me in the air.
As pilots we had to be capable of servicing our aircraft and had to 'keep our hand in'. It was while standing on a wing helping the ground crew refuel a Sabre
that I had inserted the filler nozzle into the wing tank and the fuel was flowing when
the bowser pressure refuelling hose split and soaked me from head to foot in
. Fortunately there was no fire or I would have been fried alive. Stinking of
aviation fuel, and my skin stinging all over from its effect, I was promptly taken
back to my room to strip off, throw my flying suit and other clothing out of the
window, and go and have a bath - with several changes of water. I took the rest of
the day off. My clothes, left outside on some bushes at the back of the block
overnight, soon lost the smell and, after Frau Pinnau had washed them, were none
the worse. My flying suit likewise survived but was much cleaner after its soaking in
fuel. It was fit for use again 24 hours later and had almost no residual smell.
I was only to fly a Sabre
six more times. Four of these sorties were the now
routine ciné quarter attacks
and tail chases, each ending with a QGH
. I flew an air-to-ground
firing sortie at Meppen and my final flight, although I didn't know it at the
time, was a 30 minute weather recce followed by a join-up and some close formation
flying. That was on Friday, February the 4th.
What had happened to stop me flying was that, towards the end of January
Sqn.Ldr. Des Browne
caught me using the crew room emergency oxygen rig when
there wasn't any flying. I had been vomiting and had a belting headache and must
have looked pretty grim. On seeing me he straight away told me to get in his
Landrover, whereupon he personally drove me to Sick Quarters. I was seen by 'Doc'
who questioned me closely about my condition. He wasn't very happy
about me. The upshot of this was that he arranged for me to be interviewed and
examined by a Medical Board. In the meantime, provided I didn't have a headache I
could still fly.
Fg.Off. Gerry Busby
flew me in the Station Flight Vampire T11 to Wildenrath on February 9th so that I could attend the Medical Board at the nearby RAF Hospital
at Wegburg the same day. I had a small overnight bag with me.
I sat before the Board and was interviewed, medically examined, and
interviewed again. Then I had to wait outside the room for a while. On being called
back in, and now standing in front of four doctors, I was told that they had medically