What were the World War 2 Aircraft kept at RAF Bassingbourn?

Today, my Dad’s memoirs talk about the planes he maintained including the King’s Flight.

At Bassingbourn were stationed two Bomber Squadrons and King’s Flight. The Bomber Squadrons were one of Lancasters and one of the American Lieberator bombers. These aircraft has been converted into troop carriers and most uncomfortable passenger carriers they were.

We were responsible for the maintenance of the aircraft’s emergency dinghies located in the wings and also for the parachutes carried by the reduced crew. The war being over there was no need to carry the three air gunners and the bomb aimer who were paret of the crew. They thus carried pilot, co-pilot, navigator, engineer and wireless operator. In addition, they carried one or two aircraftmen unskilled who is this day and age would be called cabin crew.The interior of the aircraft had had all wartime fittings removed and had had canvas seats fitted along the fusilage. This enabled about 30 soldiers to be carried in most uncomfortable circumstances. The purpose to bring back to England quickly those troops who had been involved in the war against the Japanese in Burma and involved a flight to Singapore and back. The planes left England empty and flew the following route with refuelling and overnight stops at Rome, Cairo, Bahrain, Karachi, Calcutta and Singapore, a total of 6 days flying. The return journey would have the same touchdowns. Hence the round journey took about a fortnight when the plane was serviced and then repeated the trip.

King’s Flight consisted of a number of aircraft not as the name implies solely for use of the king (King George VI) but also for a variety of VIPs. The aircraft for use of the Royal Family were the aviation version of the American C47 (Dakota) a twin engined propeller driven plane. There was one for the King, one of his Queen and one for the two Princesses. The Royals did not fly in the same plane. In addition to these three Royal planes there were other planes, a mixture of Dakotas, Avro Yorks and Auro Lancastrians and a sprinkling of other types which were used by dignateries e.g. Winton Churchill, Clement Atlee (PM) Ernest Bevin (Foreign Sec) other Ministers and then the leading military people. President Jan Smalls of South Africe, Field Marshall Montogomery and others.

In addition, there were about ten Dakotas for the use of the United Nations Heads of State.

BritMums Live 2014 – my worst bits

1. Heading North from home to London. Have I become a Southerner after all these years masquerading as a Northerner?

2. Wanting to be in two places at the same time over the weekend. Firstly the lovely Montcalm hotel was hard to leave even for the learning and social delights of the conference. Secondly, inadequate Mummy went and missed the children’s school fete on Saturday.

3. Forgetting my BritMums Live ticket and then finding it was in my handbag all along on my return home.

4. Getting the various wires/cables for my laptop and phone mixed up. Such a technophobe.

5. The absolute feats of engineering with tights and underwear I now need to hold all that excess flesh in even a little bit. What lies beneath – scary thought!

6. Not having enough time available to chat to all the bloggers I would have liked to. It is the nature of the beast when working and at such a well-attended conference but it is always a little sad when you miss someone.

7. Not realising quite how bad my roots were until I returned home and my 8 year old son told me in no uncertain terms.

8. Not remembering to pack my dress for Saturday properly so that the creased look was trending on Saturday.

9. Felt it was made pretty clear that some of my dinner companions were not happy with the dinner venue I had chosen. It was a shame and a little upsetting for me although I have to say I did enjoy the food and conversation.

10. Leaving whilst Benjamin Brooks-Dutton was speaking in Room 1. I went to look after room 4 but I still felt bad at not staying and honouring his story.

11. Not making the most of lunch in terms of eating so that by the evening, I suddenly realised I was very hungry.

12. Learning that I have missed out on some tricks when it comes to blogging and writing that I could have implemented years ago. I had so much to learn. Spinning that, it should make for an exciting year ahead.

The truth is I had my best BritMums Live yet and you can read about that in a post soon.

When I think about blogging I think it’s a kinda magic!

Many bloggers are heading to BritMums Live at the weekend. There will be useful sessions on clever ways to attract and keep readers.

There is little doubt there is a science of blogging.

Howvever, let’s not forget the magical parts of the journey. Here are some of mine and I bet you recognise some of them yourself.

1. The people in my in offline world who did not really get me and then read my blog and wanted to be friends or worked out I was quite not they thought I was.

2. How when facing a crisis, the right person turns up with exactly the right advice or support.

3. The buzz when I met a blogger for the first time and felt like I was part of something after years of isolation.

4. Attending a blogger conference and just happening to be stood next to a person who would become a heartfelt friend.

5. How I got involved in working for BritMums. This happened in a very unpredictable way.

6. How when I need help with tech or design issues, a miracle worker turns up just in the nick of time

7. How when I set up Groovy Mums, it hit a nerve with the very people who needed it most.

8. How my husband realised I had a life of my own beyond the house and family and learned to love that idea.

9. How my Dad’s memoirs could via the blog reach a wider audience

10. How I have no idea where the journey will take me next and how that excites me rather than terrifies me. That shows that blogging has changed me.

So yes I think you can do all the bells and whistles stuff to good effect. However, the magic that the universe just delivers excites me even more.

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What magic has blogging worked in your life?

Today my Dad’s memoirs see himself and other Navy personnel joining the RAF at Royston.

We got our travel warrant to Royston in Cambridgeshire and on arrival were trucked to the RAF Station at Bassingbourne some 3-4 miles North Of Royston. Bear in mind sailors were like snailes in that they carried their “home” with them . Each of us sailors was laden with a full kitbag, a hammock in which was fastened mattress, blanket, mattress cover (and any items of clothing which did not fit in the kitbag) an attache case and a new item now that I had qualified in the Safety Equipment trade a wooden tool box and contents. Four items in total which has to be carried in one go otherwise risk them being stolen.

Thus we arrived at the RAF Station where were given a late supper and allocated somewhere t sleep. This meant a dormitory in a purpose bulit brick block two stories high. One dormitory on the ground floor and one of the first floor each accommodating about 20 upper and lower iron beds. Here we found sheer luxury in that the beds had what were called “biscuits” three in umber each about 2 foot 6 x 2 foot which when laid end to end formed a comfortable mattress. There were two pillows to each and bed and blankets and sheets!! Also a decent sized wardrobe/locker to put our clothes in! Luxury indeed.

The RAF Brylcreem boys were pampered. Without doubt, the RAF had a more comfortable lifestyle and a less rigid discipline than the Royal Navy. I spent about 4 months with the RAF and enjoyed the more relaxed lifestyle whilst I was there.

On the second day there we had to do a joining routine. We were given a card which contained a list of different departments but first of all we were each issued with a black sit up and beg bicycle whihc we retained throughout our secondment. The RAF Station including its airfield covered a vast area with different departments scattered around its perimeter. Armed with bicycle and joining card I spent most of the day visiting the various listed premises where the officer or NCO there had to sign that I had reported. It became clear subsequently that the reason for this was that if I had been issued with anything from a particular department the man in charge would be able to claim it back when I completed the reverse process with a leaving routine. Apart from the bed sheets and the bicycle I was issued with nothing else but nevertheless still had to have a full card of signatures.

The joining card fully completed had to be returned to an RAF Officer best described as an adjutant who was responsible for the Naval personnel on the camp. I never saw him again until I did the leaving routine 4 months later.

On the following day I commenced work in the Safety Equipment section. The person who was in charge of the day to day running of the section was a WAAF Sergeant. We six sailors more or less doubled the size of the section which until then had numbered three WAAF and two aircraftmen.

The sections’s duties consisted of care and packing of parachutes and the maintenance of dinghies. These duties did not occupy the whole time and we therefore involved in internal and external cleaning of aircraft on King’s Flight which was located here.

It is Father’s Day and I am missing my Dad. I have had a few tears but only a few. As time passes I focus on how lucky I was to have him in my life and to smile at very happy memories.

What makes a good Dad? What made my Dad a great Dad? Could I advise my sons in time on how to be a good Dad?

1. Dad brought us his own sons and then together with Mum adopted me when he was well into his forties. Without that generous spirit, I might have stayed in a children’s home.

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2. I don’t remember Dad ever brushing me away. He always had time for me. Right up until his death, he would put down whatever he was doing to focus on what I had to say. There was never a limit on that time either. From spending a full Christmas Day making a doll work to listening to me bang on to him when he was in his last year till his eyes drooped, he always made me feel that I was an interesting person.

3. He gave me one-one-one quality time so as a child we would go on walks together or converse with the telly switched off whilst Mum was gadding about.

4, He shared his world with me. He would take me with him to work whenever that was possible and take my opinions seriously. He stimulated an interest in the legal system which led to me going to Cambridge University to study Law.

5. He took me all over the UK and abroad believing I could learn something from each place.

6. He never put me down as a girl/woman and got me involved in traditionally boys stuff as well as girls stuff. I remember painting the shed with him in particular.

7. He kept me safe as a child and picked up both myself and friends in the early hours off the morning as we staggered out of night clubs.

8. When I turned my back on a legal career, he never once said it was a disappointment to him. When I got involved with dodgy bloke, he let it run its course. He let me follow my own path even if he could see I may well live to regret it. Sometimes, I have felt he was wrong in that but on reflection, I think it is actually a sign of respect for me and he was always there to pick up the pieces.

9. Let’s do a general cover-all that Dad got me out of many a financial crisis.

10.. When I became a parent, Dad looked after my son so I could return to work. He was in his Seventies by then. He took my son all over the place in his car so that my son’s first word was Rover. In the 2 years of his life, he lived with us providing my children with love, advice, discipline, lemonade and custard creams.

What did Dad provide me with that makes him an hard act to follow?

Love

Time

Interest

Himself

Security

Forgiveness

Generosity

Guidance

Not forgetting the laughter and lots of it.

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Winnettes
Twin Mummy and Daddy