water. The Boss
spoke with the Safety Officer to try and establish what had
happened. Then he climbed up the Range Tower and phoned Oldenburg to arrange
for a recovery crew to attend. There was little else to do, so we left the scene.
As came out in our discussion on the way back, there were several very curious
events surrounding this incident. Firstly, why did Ted
come into my office and
behave the way he did? Secondly, there was no way he could possibly have known
he would be flying XB 548
until he had been briefed to do so on his (later) arrival at
. Thirdly, although he would have known from Met briefing that there
would be range firing that day, there was no guarantee that he himself would
actually be doing so. The Boss
questioned me closely about this as we drove back to
base. We discussed whether Ted
could have committed suicide, or whether he had
suffered from target hypnosis and followed his bullets into the ground. Neither of
these seemed likely, but both were possible. He had either just got married, or was
about to be married, and had everything to live for.10
But the overriding
question that remained unanswered was "Why did Ted
come into my office and say
what he did when he could not possibly have known that he would be flying XB
?" Neither of us could answer that.
body was recovered from the hole by the Oldenburg crash crew and his
funeral took place in Hamburg five days later. In the circumstances, I thought it
better that I should not attend. The subsequent accident investigation, to which I was
not called, considered that during his pull-out after firing on the target, one of his
leading edge slats may have jammed out creating violent asymmetric lift and
tipped him over, thus causing him to hit the ground. For me, there will always be
Then came the day when a United States Air Force Grumman Goose seaplane
entered the circuit and requested permission to land. The pilot did a low run over the
runway, at which point I heard Air Traffic get in touch with the Boss
that everybody goes out to piss on the runway so that the seaplane could land!
Going round again, the pilot lowered the wheels of his amphibian, landed normally,
and taxied to the apron in front of Station Flight.
I was given notice that my tour at Jever would end soon. This came as a blow
as I had to make up my mind as to which of two options I was given as to my future
RAF career. These options were to train either as an Equipment Officer or as a
Fighter Controller. I had recently seen Andy Skene
, Station Equipment Officer, go
down with a nervous breakdown as a result of some anomaly or other regarding
equipment accounting. Also Plt.Off. Robin Sandle
Officer, had warned me of
the traumas that could happen if things went wrong.11
Fighter Control it had to be,
although I knew next to nothing about the job, save for hearing voices controlling us
over the R/T
and knowing that radar was used in some way.
As it happened, at about this time there were a series of hush-hush meetings in the Boss's
office to which I was not privy. I heard the name "Brockzetel" used in this
connection several times and gathered that it was a new satellite site of some sort.
But that was all.12
, late of 4 Squadron
, had been posted to the RAF 'Brat' Apprentice School at Halton, near Wendover.13
He chanced to hitch a lift on a day return trip to Jever on a Communications Flight Anson. On arrival he made for my office before
having lunch with his old Squadron mates. He told me of some of the tricks the Brats got up to. One such situation he told me he had to handle was when, one Saturday
10 With the passage of time I have forgotten which.
= Equipment Pay and Accounting Section.
12 I could not have possibly known it then, but after retraining I would be regularly in touch with this, for the
moment, mysterious site.
13 RAF Apprentices were known as 'Brats' throughout the Service.