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'We copped a packet over Peenemunde'

Not something you hear everyday but that's what my neighbour, Jimmy, said to me earlier today. Over an early NYE snifter or three he told me he enlisted in January 1940 when he was just nineteen and chose the RAF because he was interested in flying and fancied being a pilot. Time went by and although he had a medical etc. no letter came for him. February came and went and his mum got fed up with him lying around the house and told him to get a job (he'd been at college prior to enlisting). But he couldn't get one because he was liable to get his papers any day soon so his mum told him to sign on the dole so that at least she could get some money out of him, so he signed on at 10/6d a week (53p).
His papers eventually arrived in May and he reported for duty to an induction centre near Northolt aerodrome, then to an installation near Bath for initial training, Here he and the other recruits were drilled and spent a lot of time 'marching about'. They were also responsible for guarding some Nissan huts but they were not told why. For this duty one man was given a rifle and the res had broomstick handles. 'Can you imagine it old boy, fighting off a bloody Tiger tank with a bloody stick'! They later discovered that the shadowy figures they saw in the huts were part of the team developing the radar technology that played such an important role for us over the next five years.
He wasn't selected for pilot training and in August 1940, Aircraftsman 2nd. Class Pearson J. was sent to North Wales for gunnery training. Here they went up twice a day in old fighter bombers to shoot at towed targets. 'Thing was old boy, they only put enough fuel in the kite for less than an hour's flying. This was because the pilots were Polish and all the buggers wanted to do was shoot down Germans: give 'em a full tank and they'd disappear for bloody hours looking for them'. Once qualified as an air-gunner Jimmy was posted and found himself up against the 'Desert Fox' and the Afrika Corps.

This is about as much as I can do at the moment I'm afraid (peepers are aching) but if anyone has found it interesting I'll do a part 2 (Jimmy's active service and PoW time) later in the week.


  • Yes please T and a Happy New Year to you and yours.
  • Wonderful stuff, more please our time left with people like this in our community is precious so the more we can share of their memories the better, thank you so much for posting this March51 I look forward to hearing more.
  • Sod later in the week, now! (Please)
  • Good stuff. Await next instalment.

  • Marvellous stories - when you can manage it, yes please continue.

    This was a special generation, and their memories are very precious. Many years ago my immediate boss was a great character who had been a navigator (on Halifaxes I think). Some years after the war whilst on holiday he and his wife met a German couple. They were from Berlin, and they asked him if he had ever visited their city. "As a matter of fact I've been several times, but I was never able to stay very long !"

    Very best wishes to you for the New Year, March51, sir, and hoping for your steady recovery.
  • more please - very interesting.

    when I was growing up I had a relative who we only saw a xmas, weddings etc and this old boy's hands would shake & we were told not to say anything. Once he had passed away I found out that he had seen active service & had been held POW by the Japanese. Just a shame I was never allowed to talk to him about it..............
  • Happy New Year, Terry - keep the stories coming, please.
  • Great stuff more please.
    We should document these stories before they are lost forever.
    If anyone's interested I researched my grandfathers service history and produced a small book for family.
    He was on the Hampshire's (later royal)
    He enlisted in 1923 until 1951 was in India and later at Dunkirk and DDay (gold beach)
    Some great stories and action.
  • Thanks Rob, (and everyone else) a Happy New Year to all. Will be starting part 2 soon. Thing is Jimmy has invited Mrs.M and myself round for a quick one this pm so I might be a little vague later. He does like his whisky!
  • Great story - would love to hear more.

    My late father never said much but I know he volunteered rather than wait to be called up. It is significant that he kept the medals and trophies he won playing cricket, but not the medals he was awarded during the war. His whole life was influenced by those few years in a very profound way which I only began to realise when I got older.
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  • Great to read, March. Looking forward to episode 2.
  • Great stories, I love reading these old heroes memories!
    Happy new year Mr.March to you and your family
  • Thanks CA (& Greenie), Happy New Year. Glad we don't live at Sidlow any more from what I hear about the R. Mole flooding the A217!
  • Yeah its been quite bad all over the area especially near the black horse apparently
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Roland Out!