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At First Sight
Wally Of “B” Flight - J. B. 'Wally' Walton.

My first recollections of joining 627 Squadron were of course at Huntingdon railway station. I had come from Kettering by bus after having a meal with a friend of my father and on telephoning RAF Wyton to see if there was any transport, they said it was at the railway station. On getting there I was lucky, as the lorry was just due to leave. I was feeling rather miserable and sorry for myself as I thought I would not know anybody at the new station, but as I was hauled aboard the vehicle, somebody shouted “It’s Wal” and I knew I was amongst some of my old Malta friends, who had returned to England on the same ship, having been on Malta throughout the entire siege. We were known as the “Luqa Harriers as we could do a sprint to a shelter quicker than any trained runner.

I forget how long we stayed at Wyton, but one incident sticks in my mind. Several of us ‘ex Maltas’ had just arrived in the cook-house for lunch when there was a terrific explosion. We dived under a table, thinking that jerry had sneaked in as they were accustomed to doing in Malta and dropped a load on the aerodrome. Being bomb-happy from our Malta experiences, it frightened me to death. In fact, we were told later, a 5,000lb “Blockbuster” had dropped from a Lancaster when someone pressed the wrong switch, and, being a “Blockbuster” it had detonated. Aircraft and personnel in the immediate vicinity had disintegrated.

We moved to Oakington in due course and I quite enjoyed being there, except for the fact that it was rather awkward getting home on leave, the train service from Cambridge to Nottingham being very poor, and a roundabout route. Apart from that, I had a further 15 miles to my home.

We had some great nights at the local pub “The Boot and Shoe” in Long Stanton, when they had any beer, which was, of course, in very short supply at the time. One night we decided to go to another pub in the same village, known as “The Green Dragon” and a certain Sergeant, who shall be nameless, stated that he knew of a short cut. We all had bikes, of course, and we set off - the next thing we heard was a splash - the said Sergeant was in the village pond, and a good laugh was enjoyed by all, probably with one exception.

Two incidents stand out in my mind regarding Oakington. The first was the take-off on the initial flight of one of our Mosquitos loaded with a 4,000lb “Cookie” bomb. We didn’t think it would get off the ground with such a load and our dispersal being at the end of the runway in use, we all mounted our bikes and rode away as fast as we could. Needless to say, the aircraft took off without much effort, as the Mossies did frequently thereafter.

The second incident was when we were towing one of the ‘kites’ into the hangar for inspection and whoever was sat at the controls I cannot remember, but he must have selected the undercarriage “up” and the aircraft landed firmly on its belly, damaging the airscrews and wheel doors. The culprit came in for quite a lot of ribbing from the lads and Chiefy was not at all pleased. I forget the period of “Jankers” he got.

At one period at Oakington the squadron carried out thirty three operations in forty two days with 100% serviceabvility and H.Q No.8(PFF) Group sent a signal complimenting all the air and ground crews on the achievement.

So, on to Woodhall Spa, which suited me fine, as it was a simple matter for me to get home on a day off. Apart from this, there was a liberty bus every night from the camp to Boston and this was well patronised by lads wishing to seek entertainment such as the cinema, pubs or the Gliderdrome for dancing.

I recall a really hectic party given by the aircrews for all the ground crews. It was held in one of the large Nissen huts on a dispersal site. Beer was in very short supply in those days, so, nothing ventured, nothing gained, Chiefy Garton contacted Bateman’s Brewery in Wainfleet and they very kindly let us have a 40 gallon barrel of bitter, which was duly emptied in a very short space of time, and so we returned to our billets. The next party I attended was for “B” Flight only and was held at the “Gate Inn’, on the Boston Road, Coningsby. Another notable night!

I went on several air tests in aircraft at Woodhall, and also an odd practice bombing trip to the Wainfleet range. On one of these trips I mentioned to the aircrew that my mother and father were on holiday at Mablethorpe, just a few miles down the coast from Wainfleet and so after they had completed their bombing run we carried on just skimming the sand hills, past Skegness and on to Mablethorpe where the Pilot, I think it must have been P.O Devigne, banked steeply and selected the street where my parents were staying, next to the railway station, and carried out a low level run at chimneypot height, turning again steeply and returning in the opposite direction. It was fantastic hut when we landed I was very sick. 



An incident I remember very well was on New Year’s Eve. I was seeing the aircraft into the “B” Flight hangar after an operation when some clown started sending “A” Flight aircraft into the same hangar. This caused a lot of sorting out when we were trying to get finished as quickly  possible in order to get to the NAAFI for a New Year Pint before the canteen closed. There was quite a bit of bad language flying about that night.

I will leave others to comment on the various operations the squadron carried out as the powers that be very seldom gave us details, presumably for security reasons. It was a very good life in the RAF, especially on 627 Squadron. They were, with very few exceptions, a decent lot of lads and we were very lucky to have such a close knit and happy squadron. There was, as with every unit, the bad apple in the barrel, but we just ignored them, and got on with the job in hand.

After all these years it is extremely difficult to remember the names of fellow erks on the squadron, but I recall Ernie Ludlow (also ex Malta) Jack Marriott and a fellow named Turrington. If you happen to read this any of you - Hello lads!

Copyright 1943-2012 627 Squadron in Retirement or as credited