"Then they found out he was working for the intelligence service against the Royal Air Force."
I’ve been through, Persia, Iraq, Iran. I’ve been through Jordan. It was all lots of desert, most of the desert there. So I got to know the desert. And in Egypt, we were put on the desert. And just before the RAF [Royal Air Force] station, there was like a horseshoe with a mound of sand built up like a horseshoe. We didn’t know what’s it for, but when they built a camp there for us, they put in that horseshoe, right in the bottom, there was officers’ tents and higher up here on the left, there were our tents because we lived in tents all the time.
That was one day where a rare thing happened in the desert. It was raining, it was huge cloud come out and it was raining all day, all night. It was raining heavily. And all that water from the desert was like a flood, desert gravel, run into this horseshoe. And well, our tents were located on top, but all the officers’ tents were flooded, only the tips of the tent were above water. So well, we stayed there [Heliopolis, Egypt] until 1945.
Once, there was such thing as constant speed control valve in the propeller. To maintain constant speed of the engine, the pilot didn’t have to move the throttle every time when he’s going down, he’s going to pick up or going up, slow down. And once he set throttle for certain engine speed, it was maintained by propellers. Propellers were changing angles. When it’s too high, it increases the angles or it will slow down. Or it was getting speeding up, it will increase the angle when it’s need some more, it will decrease with more RPM [Revolutions Per Minute]. I had to change that speed control valve and I went to the stockroom, pick up what I thought brand new valve and I install it. I checked it, it was all right and went test flight. I went with the test flight. It was working all right.
And then after a few flights, it was still at our station that plane, we received a signal from the pilot that he was testing pilot’s engines in air before shipping it off, by switching off the engine. Once you switch off the engine, you put the propellers in so what we call the feathering. And then to restart the engine, they had to go unfeathering, to start the feathering propeller. And they couldn’t do that and they had to land the [de Havilland] Mosquito [fighter-bomber] with only one engine. And when I heard that, I was on the control tower there. Well, there was a regular fire engine that was on guard, when it started, I jump into another fire engine that was out there and I drove, chasing that plane landing just in case. But it landed all right.
So then there was an official investigation, why that thing fail to do unfeathering. And I was asked questions and everything because we had to record everything we do and time, and the details. Finally, they found out that that particular part of the constant speed control valve was used, was overhauled in another shop by [an] Irish [worker]. And they found out the same Irishman had the same problem with different parts before and then they had them on the records. And then they found out he was working for the intelligence service against the Royal Air Force. He crashed, made to crash quite a few planes before. So they arrested him and we never heard anything about him.