Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette –  085 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

A World War II Memory - Sam and Glen Merrifield - Part 6
​​
At Pocklington I had my first airplane ride. This day Tom and I were repairing a TR9 (radio) when a crew of two pilots came to get the aircraft, accompanied by a flight commander who was to check them out on circuits and bumps. They said they did not need the command set and that we could continue working. The first time around I was thrilled and did more watching than working. Now this was a dual control machine which meant a flip up seat for the second dickey blocked the main aircraft entrance. The second time around, the new boys took over, and with the guidance from the instructor we made it in. Tom and I were busy working as we heard the door go slam as a voice said, "That's it, you can kill yourself without me aboard... have fun." Well the engines roared and we took off again. The first try we overshot and went around again, the second try we bounced her in from much too high and we informed the novices that if they did not let us out there would be no more circuits unless they wanted to fly with us pounding on them from behind. We enjoyed the ground when we got back onto it. I received a few anecdotes from Russ "Stoney" Stonehouse, an AEM (Aircraft Engine Mechanic), now a resident of Digby, N.S., in January 1981 and recount them here as they tell their own story.

Remember how we did battle getting to the NAAFI wagon for tea, buns and drippings?​
Remember how on clothing parade the old stores keeper would not issue replacement gloves for our RCAF issue... reason... leather gloves were not an RAF issue. How we would size up a new ruddy Canadian posted to the squadron and try and con his oldest RCAF uniform for our best blues. Remember Pocklington, Yorkshire in 1941 doing aircraft duty on old Wimpies with rifle and all and doing guard duty at entry points to the airdrome and the Colonel in the RAF Regiment who loved to personally catch you sleeping at the post, wake you up, demand a salute, then put you on a charge?

Remember also in 1941 at Pocklington having to be alerted to DRO's to see if your name was posted for the famous Backers Up Course, as they called it, headed up by the RAF Regiment. This was set up to give us proper training to fight the Hun when they parachuted into England. On this exercise you reported to the Station armament Section to draw your firearm. I like many of the fellows ran around the Yorkshire Moors for about two weeks with a piece of metal with a bayonet welded on the end. I thought how safe it was with such equipment including wooden anti-aircraft guns with sand bag encasement. The bottom line of the course was the enactment of the Germans landing or arriving at the squadron. What a fiasco. Because we were not going to be issued with at least a weekend pass for doing the course the Canadians started throwing rocks at Station Headquarters and only two casualties resulted from broken glass. Gad how lucky we were Hitler decided to attack Russia.


Getting to the more serious aspect of the war and our effort as a squadron. Remember Christmas 1941 at Pocklington and the squadron being on standby for an operation. The running up of the old Wimpies every hour on the hour so as to be ready. The target was to be Brest (as we later learned) to try and get a famous German Battleship docked there. Not too many weeks later and after bombing raids on Brest and devastating the pocket battleship it sailed up the channel without incident for the fjords of Norway. The Germans had her so well camouflaged and protected in Brest that the raids caused no harm. The time the German Night Fighter was shot down near Pock, The pilot went for it and what a grand funeral he was given. A parade with the casket draped with the Swastika and carried on a flatbed vehicle. Unfortunately the pilot had to go minus his Iron Cross and beautiful high leather boots. They went missing almost immediately when he was taken to the Station morgue. Coming home in 1945 on the troopship Mauretania I was shown the Iron Cross, the boots were gone when this party arrived to pay respects... end of Stoneys Pock remembrances.


Our cousin Lloyd Brown, at that time a Sgt WAG (Sergeant Wireless Air Gunner), visited us during the early spring of 1942 while finishing his training at an OTU (Operational Training Unit in the Midlands. Lloyd and I met twice more before he was killed during this training on May 6, 1942. "Ginger" as we called him, and I met by chance at the Beaver Club while I was on leave in London and at Covent Gardens Opera House, converted to a wartime dance hall, on another occasion. Lloyd is buried at Kempston Cemetery near Bedford and I hope to visit his grave during our Memorial Window Reunion in the spring of 1989.


The winter of 1942 gave us some heavy snow and bitter cold weather. Being Canadians we were expected to be able to handle the snow and we did - everyone - and I mean everyone ~ shovelled snow and we were able to keep our drome open and operational. The only one in 4 Group and that meant we had other aircraft as well as our own to look after.
There are two side stories to the wintery conditions. The first was the cold weather made it necessary to sand the runways to help the alc brake to a stop on the slippery runway. After the spring thaw this sand started cutting the a/c tires and we had to go out and sweep it. You can believe me a runway takes a lot of shovelling and sweeping.


The second story results from Pock being a temporary wartime drome with the water and sewer lines too close to the surface to withstand this unseasonable weather. Our toilets soon became solid blocks of ice and so polluted that we took turns going into York for a decent wash in one of the Cinema washrooms. This cold weather only lasted a few days and then all back to normal.


​I do not remember the squadron pictures being taken when we had the Winipies but they were. I obtained copies from Mac McCrady here in 
  ​
NAAFI - The Navy Army
Air Force Institute
A NAAFI Wagon
Created in 1921 by the British government, the Navy Army Air Force Institute was tasked to run recreational establishments for the the British Armed Forces and provide servicemen and their families with necessities for sale. Still in action today, NAAFI is run by civilians and offers supermarkets, launderettes, restaurants, clubs, bars, shops and the iconic NAAFI wagons. They are located on most British bases and as canteens on many British Navy ships. Officers are expected to find their necessities in the Officer’s Meeses. Duting World War II, by April 1944, 7000 NAAFI canteens were in operation with 96000 personnel. It also controlled ENSA, the armed forces entertainment organization.  

Vancouver in the mid 1980's. Copies were never made available to the rank and file as they were in the Leeming picture so maybe that has something to do with it.