I arrived in Bournemouth anticipating some home leave after a
year's absence in America and Canada. This was duly forthcoming
and it was great to be reunited with Moira who was by then a
subaltern in the ATS while I was still LAC - so it was a case
of "Yes Ma'am".
Early in October I was posted to Bobbington in Shropshire for
advanced flying training which involved many cross-country trips
with experienced pilots in Anson aircraft. These were twin-engined
multi-purpose planes and my main recollection of them concerns
the undercarriage which had to be raised and lowered by a handle
operated manually by the navigator.
The course lasted until the end of November and part of the time
we had to live in tents during a very cold spell but this was
exceptional due to the massive aircrew training programme. I
qualified for my Observer badge and was commissioned as Pilot
Officer; soon afterwards the Observer badge became obsolete and
was replaced by separate Navigator and Bomb-Aimer badges.
After Bobbington I was sent on leave for a month and just before
Christmas I received orders to report to OTU (Operational Training
Unit) at Wing near Leighton Buzzard. The first and very important
task at OTU was to form all the different aircrew categories
into crews and this was done entirely in a 'pick your own' basis
which worked extremely well.
It really was vital to form crews whose members were compatible
and who had confidence in each other. My companions were
Jack Patteson (Pilot - Canadian),
George Pearson (Bomb-Aimer - English),
George Adams (Wireless Operator - English),
Harry Bacon (Rear Gunner - English),
Ted Froats (Mid-Upper Gunner - Canadian),
Sid Scott (Engineer - English).
The last two joined the crew when we converted to four engined
Stirling bombers but George Pearson was invalided out after OTU
to be replaced by Ike Walker (New Zealander). All of these were
Sergeants so that I was the only Officer in the crew but Jack
as Pilot was Captain of the Aircraft and this situation was not
uncommon in Bomber Command - at no time did it create any problem
in our crew and there were occasions on the ground when as an
Officer, I was able to be of assistance to the crew as a whole.
1943 to May 1943.
We flew twin-engined Wellingtons at OTU with special emphasis
on night flying, as this was to be our function on operations;
we soon developed a good and confident relationship with particular
faith in our Skipper who was a first class pilot and cheerful
The course finished at the end of March but our progress was
delayed by the loss of our Bomb-Aimer and we were all sent on
leave for several weeks until a new Bomb-Aimer was found. He
was Ike Walker who soon became a valuable member of the crew
and our next posting was to Waterbeach near Cambridge for conversion