19 OTU Title


Connect to the Site Map
(I would like to thank Ted Hutchinson and his son Clive for the information on this page. Webmaster.)

Edward (Ted) Hutchinson, Royal Air Force

Ted was was posted to RAF Kinloss in March 1940. As a corporal he worked in the workshops until 19 OTU was set up in May 1940 when he was transferred to the major inspection and servicing hangars. When 19 OTU "D" Flight moved to RAF Forres in January 1941, it was decided that a minor inspection unit would be set up there to save aircraft due for minor inspections flying to Kinloss. He was in charge of this servicing crew at the Pilmuir site.

The "D" Flight dispersal point was originally sited alongside the Inverness road where the River Findhorn takes a right angle turn towards the village of Moy. The Flight comprised a four-wheeled metal caravan as the Flight office and a small tent for sheltering groundcrew and spares! Similarly, "C" Flight was set up close to the River Findhorn bridge on the Inverness road.

When "D" Flight took over at Pilmuir after four Nissen huts were built there, Ted returned to the servicing hangers at RAF Kinloss. At RAF Kinloss, he was eventually Flight Sergeant in charge of major inspections in Numbers 1 and 2 hangers.

Sometime in late 1943/early 1944, Bomber Command issued an instruction that officers and senior NCO technicians were to have experience of both major and minor servicing and flight servicing. Consequently, Ted was transferred to RAF Forres as Flight Sergeant in charge of "D" Flight with Flight Sergeant Middleton moving in the opposite direction.

He remained in charge of "D" Flight until it was moved back in 1944 to RAF Kinloss where he set up "C" Flight at Langcot House on the corner of the airfield.

Ted found dispersal work during his time at RAF Forres very pleasant, especially during the summer, after two years or so of dealing with major servicing emergencies and panics at Kinloss and drome crash clearances at both stations.

He was demobbed in 1946 and returned to his native county of Lincolnshire to work for A V Roe & Co. and has lived there ever since.

RAF personnel stationed in the area found Forres townsfolk friendly and helpful.

Ted affectionately remembers: -
Mrs Duncan, in the shop opposite the Post Office,
Harry Noble, fruiterer,
Donald Mackenzie, garage owner,
Mr Digby, the cinema manager,
the West Indian doorman at the Carlton Hotel,
Mr Bremner, the timber mill manager,
and many others,
……….. not forgetting the delicious local Plasmon oats.

Aircraft Losses

Ted recalls the losses as sad and unpleasant but during the war, they were accepted as inevitable in the circumstances. Crash clearances were part of the job. He can still vividly remember some of the crashes.

  1. Whilst at Kinloss, he retrieved a ditched aircraft from Findhorn Bay at low tide. Armstrong Whitworth repaired the aircraft.
  2. One of the worst crashes he remembers was of a Whitley that broke in two while flying low over the Honeychurch bombing range. The tail landed a mile away from the rest of the aircraft. A search had to be made for two bodies missing from the wreckage: the poor crew members had been at the break-point of the fuselage.
  3. During his time at "D" Flight, on two occasions, a Whitley fell out of the sky with engine failure onto the drome close to "D" Flight. The usual engine roar followed by two loud bangs and darting to the door in time to see them bounce. The pilot of one had his leg clipped by a propeller. As he was being gently lifted out, he poured loud and violent abuse on the Whitley bomber!
  4. With reference to the Whitley crashing in Forres Town (N1440 on 7 November 1940), Ted felt it was small wonder that there were not more crashes on the town since all take-offs and landings were continually taking place over the town because the long leg of the "L" shaped Forres airfield was in that direction.
  5. The Whitley LA819 "P" Peter (the website icon) was a "D" Flight aircraft. As it was due for a minor inspection, when it landed after a training flight on 17 August 1944, the pilot was asked to leave it at the Balnageith site hangar rather than at the dispersal. As it was a sunny day, the inspection fitters worked on it outside. Apparently the engine fitter noticed sparks flying off the engine. The aircraft caught fire. Ted spotted the aircraft burning from his office on dispersal. "P" Peter, a comparatively new aircraft, was a complete write-off: tyres and fabric burnt, engine mountings melted, lowering the engines to the ground.
  6. Whitley N1369 was taking off from Kinloss during night flying on 19 October 1943. An Anson was landing at the same time and sat directly on top of the Whitley. The Whitley pilot was at a loss as to why his aircraft suddenly veered off course until the wireless operator called out that a wheel had just appeared alongside him! Both were left in front of No 1 hangar in the morning to the choice and ribald comments of the hangar technicians.

Fortunately the groundcrew did not personally know aircrews under training because of the transient nature of the aircrews’ postings there. Nevertheless, permanent members of 19 OTU did feel the poignancy of such tragic losses. Ted remembers on one such occasion, a WAAF driver reported seeing a young woman crying on a banked roadside near the Forres camp. It turned out that she was the wife of a crew member killed in the previous night’s crash: she had arrived in Forres to spend a few days with him. The WAAF returned to comfort her and to make sure that she safely returned to her hotel.

Other memories

  1. If any aircrew’s belongings (gloves, navigation rulers, etc, - deemed to be dangerous loose objects) were found on a "D" Flight aircraft, they could be collected from the dispersal office but before the property was handed over, the offender was invited to contribute 2/6 to the Flight’s party kitty (periodically well organised by Sgt. Mick Foley when funds reached the required level). If he objected, he was politely requested to collect them from the CO of "D" Flight who had a similar box but the charge there was 5/- (also for the Flight kitty) plus a ticking off for endangering the aircraft!
  2. From time to time, a Whitley contrived to drop a bomb in the coastal area of the Moray Firth. The resultant fish casualties were collected by the air/sea rescue launch from Burghead and ended up as a choice supplement to the normal mess fare.

Photograph: D Flight 19 OTU RAF Forres c.1943-4

D Flight No 19 OTU circa 1943-44.The photograph was taken in the Pilmuir area of the aerodrome. Posing in front of a Mark V Whitley are the complete staff of "D" Flight except for one sergeant and six groundcrew who had been on night duty. The officers on the front row were operational flyers, who, resting after a period on operations, performed the flight training. Note their medals. Also on the front row were the senior flight NCOs. Corporals and LACs were on the second row with airmen on the other rows. Click on the image to enlarge. (and for more information)
© Ted Hutchinson
Front row (L to R):
Sergeant Foley (Engines), P/O ?, F/O Gallantry, Flt/Lt Mair, Sqn Ldr Sturmer (Aircrew CO "D" Flight), Flt Lt Lucas, F/O?, F/O? , Flt Sgt Hutchinson (Airframes, i/c "D" Flight), Sgt Clode (Engines)

Top of page

Connect to Frames | Sitemap | ©opyright Griffon 1997-2003