(Flt/Sgt) B J K
1806115 . 22/7/45
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
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 -
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
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.