627 Squadron in retirement

 

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At First Sight
You ! - You ! - You !- Tiger Force! - Reg Davey.

It came as quite a shock nearly two months after the end of the war in Europe, to be posted to 627 Squadron at Woodhall Spa on 30th June 1945, just when we were sweating on the prospect of an early demobilisation. We were given the usual flannel about being specially selected to form part of the Tiger Force to mark targets in Japan for Avro Lincoln bombers. I recall that we were told we were to be based on Okinawa and when, on hurriedly scouring a map of the far east, we discovered that this was a small island to the south of Japan, which would entail round trips of some 1600 miles in Mosquitos, mostly over the ocean, we were not terribly thrilled.

With 139 Squadron, also Mosquitos, based at Upwood, which, in those days was still in Huntingdonshire, we had carried out high level marking on H2S radar over Germany at night, so it was a further shock when we found out that the lads of 627 Squadron were, in fact, low level daylight maniacs. The Mk XVI and XIX Mosquitos were equipped with a brand new very high definition H2S which meant we could pick out railway lines, runways, small boats etc., on the screen. Consequently, with H2S Training and Development Flight, our cross country exercises were carried out at around 2000 feet “map reading” by radar. Personally, I found this quite difficult, in view of the Mosquito’s speed and the fact that the picture on the screen did not display colours or contours to match the maps with which we were supplied. The only blessing was that, when on occasions, we got lost (you have never heard a navigator admit that before, have you?) my pilot would circle a railway station and read off the name! Station name boards had, fortunately, been reinstated in most places by this time.

Exercises were usually completed by dive bombing (practising for visual marking) on the range at Wainfleet, near Skegness. Approaching the target at around 3000 feet the pilot would throttle back in a climb and as the aircraft stalled and a wing dropped, we would go into a powered dive, pulling out at between 1000 and 500 feet. Frankly, it used to terrify me, for only “he” knew what was happening.

Between flying exercises we were having jungle survival instruction from teachers, whose only experience of such an unattractive pastime had been gleaned from natural history books. These lectures frequently aroused a certain amount of derision and ribald comment!

Pressure increased when we heard that our ground crews were going on embarkation leave and several of us sold our beloved motor bikes at the weekly auction in the market square in Boston Spa, in readiness for the flight out east.

What joy, then, when the news broke that the atom bombs which had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki had resulted in the Japanese capitulation. That very probably saved my own and many other lives on the squadron.






Copyright 1943-2012 627 Squadron in Retirement or as credited