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I spent my last day at Pembroke Dock on a refueller putting 3000 gallons into a Sunderland before it took off on an operational flight. I also had a while on beaching dinghies, putting Sunderlands up and down the slip; a tricky job especially if the wind and tide were opposite, the buoyant wheels being hard to push underwater to fasten on to the bolts. The Catalinas had no need of this service, they just put their wheels down and taxied up themselves. I remember the run-up to D-day. Many tank landing

My RAF Wartime Service 1940—46, Part 2 b e i hf o Cath and Tony Lynn

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be. Another posting came through to Calshot at the end of March to be trained for long-range A/S/R. I sold my cycle, sadly, but received much more than I had paid for it in 1938, cost £12/19/6 – sold for £20. When I arrived at Calshot they were short of

craft were in Milford Haven channel. We were invited aboard one and given chocolate, chewing gum and ice- cream – a real treat. Within days they had all vanished. We wondered what was happening but soon found out. I was put back on beaching duty with lots of Sunderlands going up and down the slip and more operational flights than usual. D-day had arrived, 6th June 1944. It was a bad time for me. My fiancé was coming to

stay at Neyland and I had arranged for her to stay with friends there. I had wangled a couple of days off to meet her off the train and take her to my friend’s place. In the event, I only managed to have one day free. She stayed for a week so I was able to see her during my time off. I enjoyed my days at Pembroke Dock especially as I

was in the RAF band playing drums for concerts and parades. On days off I played in a Dance band in Neyland Community Hall. It all came to an end when I was posted to Tenby for Air Sea Rescue duty. I only did two trips out on their whale back before being posted again on 22nd December to Fraserburgh in Scotland. I managed to go to an advance Christmas party in one of the houses there. I was due to go on leave the next day and be married

on 23rd December, but had to go leaving my bride-to-be wondering where I was until I was able to contact her on Christmas Day being delayed by changing trains en-route twice. Sadly Joyce lost her mother, passing away on 21st December and being buried 23rd December, the day we were to have been married. A devastating blow to her and her father and the more so as I could not be with her and she did not know where I was either. I was eventually granted leave from 20th January and we were married on the 23rd. There was no time for a honeymoon; that had to wait until my next leave as we had so many friends to see. The day I was due back we were snowed up so I did get 2 more days leave.

Fraserburgh was a good station. I had two trips out

into the North sea on a Hants and Dorset, standing by for planes returning from raids, once picking up two men from a ditched aircraft and once sighting a Jerry Condor when we had to man all guns. Either he did not see us or thought we were not worth attacking. Another trip up to the Moray Firth to Tain to take a H/Dorset to be repaired. She had broken 5 ribs on a call-out in rough seas. It took us a day of slow sailing to get there. All the carpenter repair boys were living in returned aircraft wooden boxes finding them much warmer in the deep snow than in Nissen huts. We returned to Fraserburgh by train via Inverness, lots more snow again. On one more leave from Fraserburgh I took my sports cycle to have rides around the lovely countryside but it was not to


beaching crew so I was put on some gunnery practice on Orlikons, the Japanese plane recognition, a crash cookery course, refresher courses on Morse, semaphore and compass use which kept us all busy. While there my wife came down for two weeks, I had made friends when attending the Methodist church and so was able to make arrangements for her to stay at Mrs. Thick’s whose husband was away in the Army; Mrs. Thick was taking in RAF lads. I found out that the skipper-to-be of our sister ship 013 was staying there too, F/Lt Les Flower, later to become a Group Captain. Later still he became our much loved President of the ASR/MBC Club. He was indeed a gentleman and a very good officer and skipper. For me it was “Les” when in the house and “Sir” when outside. Mrs. Thick became our very good friend after the War staying with one another on holidays. Finally our crew was formed and we all went to

Bangor, North Wales to pick our boat, a re-floated torpedo boat turned into a long-range A/S/R 015 boat. We had a couple of days in Bangor then set sail for Dover calling in at my old station, Pembroke Dock on the way, I was very pleased to see my old friends and also even more pleased to pick up my snare drum. I thought I’d lost it when having to go to Tenby and then Fraserburgh at short notice. God has been good to me all through my service career and before it too, saving me many times from death and blessed me in many ways. On to Dover, half of the crew on embarkation leave

(7 days) then the other half. We teamed up with 013 and set sail for Ceylon via Gibraltar, Malta etc. I forgot to mention that while at Calshot VE Day came and we were all given the day off to celebrate. We caught the bus into Southampton to join the crowds celebrating in the bombed city among the prefabricated shops. I remember standing on the Town Hall steps crowded with forces and civvies singing “There’ll always be an England”, “Blighty”, “God Save the King”, etc. We forgot for the time being that we were due to go to the Far East very soon. So off we were on our way to Gibraltar in a small

ex/MTB to cross the Bay of Biscay at 6 knots per hour. I remember watching “The white cliffs of Dover” slip behind. One of the crew photographed the cliffs receding from sight. We all got a photo later but did not know at that moment whether we would ever see those white cliffs again. Four days of sailing, only the two of us. I was in the galley preparing soup and tea, our main diet across the bay. Thankfully we had a very good trip. No one was seasick even though we were carrying 10 extra maintenance bods. We reached Gibraltar on 26th July and had some

days to rest and refuel, taking on water and food as well. We were allowed to go ashore before getting ready to make the next part of the trip to Malta. To be continued

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