roundel jsl spacer hunter1
Previous page Contents List Next page
downgraded me to A3 G1, co-pilot only. My career as a fighter pilot was over. I phoned Jever to tell the Boss, and I was ferried back from Wildenrath next morning in the T11 by Fg.Off. John Sutton of Station Flight.3 This was my last flight, all 25 minutes of it, in an RAF jet.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesDuring January and February promotion exam candidates were allowed time to study in the Education Section adjacent to Station Headquarters. We were given extra personal tuition and attended appropriate lectures. This was in addition to similar studies which I had done some months previously, but this time I was eligible, with having enough seniority as a Flying Officer, to actually sit the exams. My knowledge of Air Force Law, which we were not taught, was derived from my having, some months previously, bought my own copies of the Manual of Air Force Law and Queen's Regulations & Air Council Instructions, together with a subscription so as to receive all amendments as they were issued. With these books there was already a whole wodge of amendments to be cut and inserted. I reckoned that I knew my way around these books better than most by the time I had finished.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesJust five days after being grounded I went to Oldenburg to sit the examinations. Staying in the Mess until the end of that week, the four of us from 93 spent our time either sitting the various papers or studying for the next ones. We were far from alone and, as can be imagined, the atmosphere was tense, with not only pay increases and promotions at stake, but whole careers depending on the results. The Oldenburg Mess was crowded with candidates from all over 2 Group. I felt reasonably confident with my answers to most of the questions, but less so with the Law and some of the Aviation papers, particularly the questions dealing with variable pitch propellors which I had never come across. I had done my best. There were no distractions and no headaches. Now all I had to do was wait.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesAlthough still officially on the strength of 93 Squadron my days there were obviously numbered. I stayed with them until the end of February and was with them on a Ground Combat Course run for our benefit by the RAF Regiment. Our knowledge of field craft was updated. We were given the latest news on chemical warfare and its effects. The highlight of the week, which I enjoyed immensely, was the firing of rifles and Sten and Bren automatic weapons in the harmonisation butts close to 4 Squadron hangar. It was generally agreed that my shooting was 'pretty good'.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesAt this point I had no idea what I was going to do next. I still had five months of my two and a half year tour to complete in Germany. The only thing that was certain was that I would be posted away from the Squadron. Knowing this I set about handing over a Barrack Inventory to some unsuspecting junior pilot. My MT inventory and my duties as MTO were handed over to George Hickman. My parachute, aircrew wrist watch, Mae West, and other gear were returned to Stores. I was allowed to keep my flying clothing. Strange as it might seem, having handed over both my duties and most of my equipment, and officially 'cleared' from all departments associated with flying duties and, effectively, the Squadron, I felt as though a great weight had been lifted from me in readiness for some, still unknown, new beginning. For the time being I was still responsible for the PSI Gardens and Tug of War (which I had shirked so far), and responsibilities for potential visits by Air Squadrons and Summer Camps.
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytesMy final assessment on leaving the Squadron? Below average. In view of my personal condition and its inevitable effect on my performance I had no argument with that.4 On hearing this, some of my friends expressed the view that they thought Des Browne had a 'downer' on me. I was in no position to comment.
3 He is now Sir John Sutton, and one time President of the Royal Air Forces Association of which I am a Life Member.
4 The reasons for the headaches are explained in the last chapter.
Previous page Contents List Next page
1px-trans.gif, 43 bytes