RAF 112 Squadron

Veterans Story

Flt/Sgt Bian Bird    36    Bird (Flt/Sgt)    B J K     1806115    .    22/7/45    22/11/46    .

During the war I was flying Spitfires in the Italian Campaign with 185 Squadron of Desert Air Force and just after the ceasefire in Italy Marshall Tito was threatening to annexe Trieste. Thus I converted onto P51 Mustangs and joined 112 Squadron for a further year, daily patrolling(armed with 500lb bombs!!)  the Yugoslav Coast from our base at Treviso down as far as Dubrovnik - over 100 hours in 12 months.

I was posted home in late 1946 and spent the last two months of my service at HQ Fighter Command  at Bentley Priory going through secret files between Lord Dowding and Winston Churchill (sworn to Secrecy under the Official Secrets Act 1939 !!) As you probably know Bentley Priory has now become an RAF Museum and the beloved Spitfire is to be  seen outside the entrance.  
I attach a copy of the photograph of the 112 Pilots I served with and in relation to that photograph I’ll give you a thumbnail sketch of  one or two I recognise who are on the Nominal Roll and also in the photograph.


 I am second from the left in the back row. Others, in alphabetical order, that I remember and are on the Nominal Roll are:-
162. S/Ldr Paul Forster D.F.C - (Fourth from Left in Front Row)  - was our C.O at my time and we all messed together in Pilots’ Mess in a villa which you can see to the left.
172. Flying Officer Geddes  (Second from Left in Front Row) - I flew as number two to him on quite a few occasions    
174. Sgt Gibson ( 1st on the left Back Row - next to me  - a Scot !
188. Sgt Gregory  (1st on the left in the middle Row) - I can recall spending a leave at Venice with him and we shared a tent at one of our bases
215. Flight Lieut Geof Hirons D.F.C - One of our Flight Commanders and a delightful man. We travelled together with his Italian Fiancé for a weekend on Lake Garda at Sirmione. You will see him  third from the left in the Front Row
219. Flying Officer Hollis  - First on the Left - Front Row
265. Pilot Officer Roy Littlewood  - Fourth  from the Left  in Middle Row. If I remember correctly He and I and one other shared a bedroom at the Villa
308. Fl/Sgt Mitchell - Third from Right in Middle Row
365. Pilot Officer Bruce Routledge D.F.M  - Last on the right in Front Row - knew him quite well.
411. Warrant Officer Peter Strange  - an old Buddy of mine from Bristol who is not in the photo but was only on the Squadron for a short time. Strange how the memory can remember stupid things - I've never forgotten the night he arrived in the mess without his tie on and how embarrassing  it was for such a meticulous man !!Not bad after 67 years ? 
479. Warrant Officer Wilbur Wright - an Irishman . Second from the right in the Middle row - On my last flight he  formated on my port side when returning to Treviso Base. I have a photo of him outside our mess with his Italian Bride !
The Squadron Adjutant is not on the Roll but is third from left in Middle row
Flight Lieut Taffy Probert a Welshman from  from Pontarddulais if I remember correctly  !!
The Squadrons two Mascots are at the front .“Sharkey”  was a German Sheppard Alsatian which used to perform “Barbed Wire Tricks “ in the Mess bar. Obviously captured at some stage from the Germans - as was a Squadron Opel !!
The other Dog attached himself to the Squadron at some stage and we nicknamed him “Doomie”!!!
All the other pilots I recognise but the memory for names is failing me.