Another W/Op's Recollection, by Ed Cooke.
|Early in March 1941 five of us W/Op.A.G.'s were posted from 106 Squadron at Finningley to 19OUT
Kinloss, after an all night journey we arrived at the Sergeants Mess in time for
lunch, after which we reported in and met all the others bods who along with us were making up the new course.
After dinner in the Mess we and our kit were loaded into trucks to head for our billets, either accommodation was in short supply or they had lost out reservations for we drove through Forres and stooped at a building on the Nairn road and were taken in this warehouse where beds were set up and that was to be our home. The smell of alcohol was overpowering so we must be in a distillery and one would awake in the morning feeling the effects, cheap night out.
Three nights later and we were told to take our kit with us as we were being moved, talk about from the sublime to the ridiculous, we were taken midway between Forres and Elgin to the Crook of Alves and deposited at the church there and this was to be our home from home for the duration of out stay. At least the air was clear but of modern conveniences there were none, oil lamps and outside toilets, my bed was on the front row of the balcony and one would get up in the morning, go outside, grab a tin bowl and fill it with hot water from the mobile heater, find a grave stone on which to put it and perform ones ablutions with a handy grave stone on which to prop our mirror. We only worked five days a week and on Saturdays went into Elgin and the Public Baths to soak and change clothes, one night we couldn't get on the last bus so had to walk back to Alves. (Right, outside the church at Alves, our billet.)
Meanwhile at the camp we were in ground school one half of the day and the other half we flew, starting in Anson's a W/Op and a Navigator did three hour cross countries, the W/OP supplying the Navigator with loop bearings and then the odd W.T fix to help him in his navigation. Then we gravitated to night cross countries and finally being crewed up on Whitley's, our crew was Sgt.Gibson as Pilot, Sgt.Lakin as Navigator and Alec Jaggers and myself alternating between the tail and the wireless.
On completion of the course we were the only crew posted to Topcliffe and 102 Squadron, Gibson and Lakin went into "B" Flight and Alec and I into "A" Flight, Gibson and Lakin were shot down on the Essen raid with Gibson being killed and the rest POW's July 3rd..Alec Jaggers was killed returning from Frankfurt on the 2nd of September. Here is a picture of the W/Ops,
Looking at the picture of No.18 course I wondered just how many of them survived the war, so did some checking around and found that thirteen of them were K.I.A, one was POW. Every year when over in the UK I visit with Owen Catt and Sam Lawton and that leaves two unaccounted for, I sincerely hope that they survived to grow old like we are. Ed Cooke
|All Pictures copyright Ed Cooke.|