|This is Steve's full story about his war memories.|
|My Service Story - Page 1
I volunteered for the R.A.F. in the summer of 1941. On my 19th birthday and after air attestation, medical etc., at RAF Uxbridge, I was told I would be training as a wireless operator/air gunner.
I had a knowledge of Morse, aldis lamp and semaphore at that time having learnt them in the boy scouts and was assistant Scout Master at the time of volunteering. Within a month I received a railway warrant and was told to report to Blackpool to begin my "square bashing" and initial Morse training.
After learning to march, to use a rifle, increase my Morse speed etc., I was posted to RAF Yatesbury, Wiltshire for wireless training and air and ground wireless procedures. After passing my exams I was posted to RAF Upwood near Peterborough, a pilots flying school where I helped to service and air test the R.T. equipment on short/long nose Blenheims. I enjoyed flying with the staff pilots whilst testing the R.T. sets but, alas, after a short period I was posted back for further training to RAF Madley to experience air to ground radio communications whilst flying, this time, in "Proctors". I suffered air sickness a couple of times on these trips but managed to complete the exercises. However, once back on the ground, I was told to clean up the mess or pay the ground crew to do it. In those days, having little money, I did the cleaning! "Yuk"!
Passing the final exams, I was posted to RAF Bracknell in Scotland for gunnery training, flying in Botha aircraft for air to air, air to ground firing etc. Where the Botha was concerned, it had a habit of engine failure! Thank God, the one I flew in kept going!!
At the passing out parade, we were issued with our A.G. Breive, wireless flash and Sergeant stripes. We were given an all too brief leave, receiving a railway warrant to report to RAF Wellsbourne Mountford, Wiltshire for O.T.U. training, joining a crew for operational flying training on Wellingtons.
My first crew consisted of a Canadian Pilot, Ernie Fisher and the rear gunner, Freddie Fry. The Navigator, Bomb Aimer and myself being English.
Sadly, on a night flying exercise, flying in 10/10ths cloud, we got lost. My wireless packed up and the RT equipment started causing concern. Tuning and retuning to no avail we eventually spotted searchlights and circled until we saw the aerodrome - RAF Halfpenny Green. The skipper tried to contact the ground and eventually assumed that they had heard him because he said that he had received a green signal from the station to land and was going in. Unfortunately on approach to the runway the aircraft struck a house or tree and we crashed to the ground at the beginning of the runway.
With a terrific bang all went black and when I came to I found my head
was sticking out of the fuselage - below was the port engine hissing as
the rain hit it. I tried to move but found that my right leg was trapped
between the corner of my desk and the arm of my seat and I was stuck fast.
It would appear that Ernie had switched off the fuel before crashing and
in double quick time the station fire/rescue services were with us and
began to see to our needs.