"“who’s that Anson for that we brought down?” He said, “well, you’re not supposed to know,” but he says, “that’s for King Farouk [of Egypt].”"
I was working in a store and all my chums had been called up with the army because they were in the Territorial, what was called the Territorial Army in Britain. And as soon as the war broke out, they were all called up. So I didn’t fancy being around on my own and so I went and volunteered for the air force, which I preferred, rather than wait to be called up when I’d have to go wherever they sent me. We had to go for an interview to see whether we were suitable enough, four air crew to start with. After a while, we were a whole bunch, 50 odd, 53 I think it was, men from the three different stations, were posted to Regina, in what was called an IST, initial training school. And it was like a university course for air crew. And we all went through this and all different ranks and all RAF. We formed a squadron, just for the training purposes, and we went through and eventually, when we’d finished the training, we were posted to various schools. And I was posted to a wireless school, although I didn’t want that but however, that’s where I had to go, that’s what we did those days, we just went where we were sent.
We were sent to different places and I got posted to [RAF Station] Greenwood, Nova Scotia. And that was, we were onto coastal command, which I found out after a while. Being there for a while, I got crewed up with a couple of RAF boys, a pilot and a navigator that had been trained in Canada. And they like me had come to be posted to Greenwood. We flew together to finish our training, finish completing our training, which was part of the curriculum, and we then eventually got posted to Britain. And by the time we got posted to Britain, lucky for me again of course, the, they didn’t require any more people on coastal command. They just wanted somebody different. So, well, the RAF decided that they would form a whole bunch of us into a ferry unit and transfer all command, so we had to learn the different command procedures. Eventually, four crews were sent to a place in the south of England, in South Wales, about four were sent to French Morocco, the first four, and then another four went to bleeding Algiers, another four Cairo west and then there was a couple left I think, and they went out to Karachi. So all our crews that were trained together were all posted all the way across North Africa. So the rather amusing part of this is that, that our job was to pick up brand new aircraft from the factories in Britain, to take them back to our units, we were responsible for them and we had to do so many, about seven days a week or so, training with them, over the water and trying the guns and trying the navigational aids and all that sort of stuff. And then we’d eventually get assigned to take it down to the south part of England and then fly over at night to wherever we’d got to go to.
Well, in lots of cases, it meant going to Gibraltar. Otherwise, it was French Morocco, a place called Rabat-Salé, which was French Morocco. If we could leave it there, that was fine. If not, we had to take it onto one of the other stations, and then find our way back to Britain, to pick up another aircraft. And so this procedure went on again. But the amusing part I was going to bring up was the fact that when we’d got down to North Africa, we were meeting all these other guys, you see, wherever we went to, there was always four of them there and out came the blanket and the cards and we were playing poker then for a couple of hours. And that’s rather amusing, we enjoyed that.
A very interesting one, we had to pick up an Anson [a type of twin-engine aircraft], they told us, gave us instructions to go, oh, I forget where, Bristol, near Bristol, to pick this Anson up. So we’d got it and picked it up, it was just this nice looking aircraft, you know, but we took it back to our unit and everybody wanting to come and have a look at it, because it was a VIP Anson. Lovely thing. And so we got the instructions to do our routines with it and check it out and then we got the permission to fly it down to southern England, ready for flying overnight. Well, that was a short thing, it was a bit later in the war and we could go across France then, and so we had to land at different airfields. Eventually, you got down to, because everybody came to have a look at it, this special thing, and when we got down to Cairo, which we were told to deliver it to, we went up to the flying control to hand in our paperwork and stuff, and Eric says to the chap in flying control, “who’s that Anson for that we brought down?” He said, “well, you’re not supposed to know,” but he says, “that’s for King Farouk [of Egypt].” So we dropped it and never heard anymore …