At First Sight
At Second Sight
BEF Al Faw Video '05
At First Sight
We Came Towards The End - For Japan - Don S. Longmore.
after the end of hostilities in Europe my navigator [Len Buckle] and I
came to Woodhall Spa from 239 Night Intruder Squadron at West Raynham.
In many ways the move, as with others in the RAF, took us from the
sublime to the ridiculous. At West Raynham we had shared a well
furnished room, had been well looked after by a very professional
batman, and had enjoyed the spacious facilities and the high standard
of living provided by a permanent RAF station, |
At Woodhall the accommodation was in Nissen huts in very rural
surroundings. We shared a hut adjacent to a potato field, with eight
other officers. The mess seemed to be overcrowded.
There was, to some extent, a feeling of anti-climax after VE Day. The
night flying was, of course, different. Airfield DREM lighting no
longer stood out so clearly as it did during the blackout, and the
profusion of other lighting, newly evident, could occasionally lead to
navigational confusion. We were assigned to “A” Flight and my first 15
minute flight in a MKIV Mosquito was an initial check with the Flight
Commander [S/Ldr Topper]. I was not aware of the reason for the check,
possibly my total number of flying hours was low compared with other
pilots in the Flight. It was the first time I had flown a Mosquito with
the spectacle wheel type of control column. Perhaps this was why the
landing was not particularly brilliant. The next flight on the same
day, this time with the Flight Commander in the driving seat, was a
dive bombing demonstration on the Wainfleet target range just off the
coast at Ingoldmells. I must say that Bill Topper was most pleasant to
fly with and I was pleased to have him as a Flight Commander.
This first dive bombing demonstration showed how the target marking
process was carried out. The aircraft was dived on to the target fiom
an altitude of about 3000 feet, the standard method used by the
squadron for well over a year. Having previously flown aircraft
equipped with gun sights it seemed to me rather crude to aim at the
target by positioning it in the lower part of the windscreen. However,
it appeared to work OK and we soon progressed on to night dive bombing
practice using the different coloured target markers for the aircraft
It was not unusual to have up to four aircraft at a time flying round
in a circle taking it in tums to dive on the target and release a
marker, pulling out of the dive at about 600 feet. To facilitate this
the navigator would call out the height continuously throughout the
dive. Errors in reading the altimeter would be hair raising of course.
These activities were coupled with wind finding exercises to take
account of the effect of wind in the dive and on the fall of the
marker, and in some cases involved a cross country or North Sea tlight
before proceeding to the target area.
From 2lst June to 7th September we flew 34 exercise sorties of various
kinds. We had no complete engine failures but Friday, 15th July,
involved some apprehension flying a MKXX “K”. The ground running check
on the starboard engine ignition was marginally OK, but the engine did
not seem to develop full power on the runway. I aborted the take-off at
a rather late stage and we came to a shuddering halt in a cloud of dust
off the end of the runway. I rechecked the engine and we taxied round
and took off successfully the second time. However, when we tested the
engine in flight with the starboard magneto switched off the engine
failed and the propeller just windmilled. The port magneto was
obviously out of action and we returned to base.
On l9th July we were flown by P/O White, in an Oxford, to Marshalls
Airfield at Camridge to pick up a MKIV “V” after modification. The
take-off was interesting - it was a relatively small grass airfield on
the outskirts of Cambridge surrounded by factories and chimneys. The
Tiger Moth flying was temporarily suspended for the event.
I have only vague recollections of attending lectures on how to behave
if captured by the Japanese and on how to survive if forced down in the
VJ Day was on l5th August. We subsequently flew two meteorological
reconnaissance flights. On the second one to Peterhead, there was no
real weather to take note of on the way back and we enjoyed some
(unauthorised) low flying along the east coast. The aircraft had
occasionally seemed to be slightly unstable on the way up to Peterhead.
We were a little disconcerted to hear subsequently that a link was
missing from the elevator control, but fortunately for us it had not
affected the flying at low level.
We enjoyed the met. reconnaissance flights and readily accepted the
opportunity to transfer to 1409 Met. Flight (Transport Command) when
627 was disbanded at the end of September 1945.
D - DZ547 in
September 1945. Arrived on the Squadron 5th January 1944, as 'O' was on
loan to 692 on its formation until 28th March 1944, and then remained
on 627 until disbandment.
Photograph: Don Longmore Collection
Copyright © 1943-2012 627 Squadron in Retirement or as