627 Squadron in retirement

 

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At First Sight
Finis Opus Coronet -  Reg Davey

“What did you do during the war grandpa?” “Well son, I flew over Germany quite a number of times, was very frightened all the time and probably drank too much. However, as you can see, the mind and body survived reasonably well. Oh, I did help in the sad end of 627 Squadron at Woodhall Spa near Lincoln on 1st October 1945, soon after the Japanese war ended. We had been training and geared up for target marking on Japan, along with the United States Army Air Force, when the atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, bringing a thankful surrender from the Imperial Japanese Forces”.

“The situation in Britain was then quite chaotic with many surplus personnel, aircraft and airfields. Air Ministry contraction plans were swiftly put into operation and one of the early decisions was to close Woodhall Spa as an operational airfield, renumber 627 Squadron as 109 and transfer it to Wickenby. Ground staff and air crew were quickly on the move, but a few of us on later postings were put on to various jobs at Woodhall, such as switchboard operating and clerical duties”.

 “My pilot was set to work in the Accounts Section and I was given responsibility for emptying all the billets, huts etc., on the dispersed sites around the airfield, and from the map you can see that there were many of them. The object of the exercise was to assemble all the items in one of the maintenance hangars for safe storage. With a sergeant, a squad of airman and two lorries I soon realised that I had been dealt a bad hand. A few huts contained only the regulation beds and lockers, but many were furnished with illegally acquired tables, chairs and chests of drawers - not to mention old shoes, clothing, broken radio sets etc. In one small hut on the far side of the airfield we even found a full set of cooking equipment - pots, pans, ladles and cutlery! The occupant (or occupants) must have been true backwoodsmen”. (I think a few ex 627 people will know more about this).

“If the beds in the billets could have talked we would have learnt of many occupant’s dreams of home, family and women, not necessarily in that order, but our main concern at the time was to see that the iron bed legs were folded for transport and stacking in the hangar. just as, at an early stage, I had learnt never to tell my pilot we were lost, so I learnt never to climb into the lorry to help the reluctant squad with the loading. How could you tell a Disablement Pensions Board that your ankle had been broken by a flying bedstead?”.

“The job progressed rather slowly, since our number steadily decreased and it was miraculous how airmen suddenly had dental appointments, queries with the Accounts Section or the most important duty of lookout for the NAAFI tea wagon. As a Flight Lieutenant I was probably the highest paid removal supervisor with the most reluctant group of “workers” in the whole of the Kingdom. You certainly needed eyes in the back of your head, blink twice and the lads were gone. Goodness knows what would have happened if our route between the huts and the hangar had passed the local railway station - they would have been off home en bloc. There is no doubt we were pioneers of the shorter working week, for weekend passes, due to start on Friday aftemoons, mysteriously worked back to Thursdays. Nevertheless I could not blame my men for it was a sad, thankless task. The sudden transition from a previously busy, noisy airfield to the empty silence of a deserted, useless area, was quite uncanny.”

“The very last lorry load was safely stowed in the hangar, a good job well, if half-heartedly, done. ‘OK lads, that’s the lot, close the hangar doors and you can .................. where have they all gone? ................ collect your weekend passes from the .................... Oh, what’s the use?’ The Squadron Motto must have changed over the years to “AT LAST SIGHT”.

“Finally we remember, with deep gratitude, those comrades who made the Supreme Sacrifice on our behalf. Goodbye 627, you did a splendid job.”






Copyright 1943-2012 627 Squadron in Retirement or as credited