Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
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British Commonwealth Air Training Plan
  
BROTHERS TWO, DRESSED IN BLUE
IN WW II - Part 12
  
During our time at Gransden someone made two changes, neither lasted more than a few days. They both looked good on paper but just did not work out. The first change was to have the W/T (Wireless Telegraphy) section have a member at debriefing to get a better understanding of the WAGs (Wireless Air Gunners) problems. This one died because after a long trip and operational debriefing it seemed silly to spend time doing what could be done as well the next day. The second change was to save manpower and dictated that aircrew WAGs do their own DI (definition unknown – sorry). This failed because the WAG arrived on the scene late in the afternoon when they had been on ops the night before. This meant that if they had a problem it left too little time to fix it. It meant we had to work harder but encouraged them to continue to DI but we also DI'd early in the day. Most of them stopped when they found we were continuing our efforts.

Sam's anecdote... Finally, to have done with Track and Field, on July 15, 1943 five of us went from the squadron at Gransden to Digby to participate in a Six Group Field Day. I do not recall much about the specific events but I remember that only three of us ended up in the winner’s circle. I do however, vividly recall being summoned to the station commanders office a couple of weeks later to receive our medals. After having received them and having given the Group Captain our best shot at a salute, a procedure long forgotten, if we ever knew; and we were heading for the door when he said "Oh incidentally, you three men came within a point of bringing the cup back to your squadron". We should have tried a little harder.

I remember this event well because knowing it was scheduled I made an effort to get some track and field spike shoes. All my life I had competed in running shoes and been envious of those with spikes. Being a depression kid I had never owned a pair. I visited Cambridge on my day off and went to several shoe stores trying to convince them to let me have a pair of spikes without clothing coupons. My perseverance paid off because I found a store that let me have an unmatched pair of highjumping spikes with spike heels which I hacksawed off. I got them because one size 8 and one size 7 1/2. I wore one with a sock and one without. They helped me win two golds and a silver so my effort was worthwhile.
​​Something that did not bother me too much at the time but has occurred to me since was how come all our short stint stations such as Driffield, Topcliffe and Leeming were "brick" stations and our long period stations like Pocklington, was wood and Beaulieu And Grandsden were corrugated iron nissen huts. Now the part about being dispersed was OK but to have your bed in one building, the toilets in another and the showers in a third wasn't all that good on a cold rainy night. The showers were the worst. In Gransden we had a concrete building with no doors, just reverse entrances and while sometimes the water was warm the buildings had no heat. Getting dried and dressed after a shower was a real test on a cold winter day.
 
Within an hours bike ride from our drome was a TB (tuberculosis) sanitarium at Papworth, I think. If these stories have a lot of I thinks in them remember there were no sign posts or maps available during the war and we were guided by landmarks. This community had a nice community hall and held dances each week. Many of the walking patients and nursing staff attended these dances which we learned about through Bill Keeler, one of our section members. Bill became friendly with the Edwards family who helped run the dances and we were often invited. The lunch at the dance was often water cress sandwiches made without margarine or butter. It was helpful in fuelling for the long ride home and was all the locals had to offer. I remember goint to a dance at the nurse's residence and seeing my 

The Nissen Hut  
https://www.nissens.co.uk/
​​first TV set. It had been decommissioned due to the war but sat there with its large eye staring at us. I think the only TV broadcasts in the world prior to the war were done from London and the location was close enough to pick up the signal.
 
In September 1943 I made a trip on leave to Northern Ireland to visit relatives. Sam had been before me and so my arrival was expected. My intention after a suitable visit was to rent civvies and proceed to Dublin for a repeat of good food and nylon stocking possibilities. The thought that I should wear rented clothes so bothered my Dad's cousin that she phoned a friend in the clothing business and arranged a suit and raincoat for me 'sans coupon'. I had this outfit which cost me six pounds for over a year and sold it for ten pounds when I returned to Canada. I remember the first time I wore it to London to visit Eve and she passed me by without a second glance although I stood where we always met when she came out from her work at the Ministry of Aircraft Production. It was fun being in civvies after all the years in uniform and I got a kick out of many looks which said "Why the hell aren't you in uniform?" from the people on busses and subway.
 
The 1980 anecdote entitled "Movie Stars" can be supplemented by the since gained knowledge that the ship carrying the movie back to Canada was sunk. Part of the newspaper interviews survived.


​​During the fall of '43 the CBC or NFB, I don't recall which, sent a film crew and reporters to stage a "Xmas Dinner at a Bomber base: I think about 40 of us were invited, 20 aircrew and 20 groundcrew. We were chosen on the basis of squadron seniority and a lot of "Rank" felt rank about the whole thing. It was held at the Legion in Gransden Lodge. The food was the best and drinks flowed freely. The producer kept on insisting we sing "Good King Wenceslas" while the drink filled actors kept insisting they sing "Who'll come on ops in a Laney with me". John Fauquier made the decision and the latter prevailed. Many of us were interviewed and after I got home the Jan. 18/44 article came into my possession. Prior to attending the Flag presentation ceremony at Greenwood I phoned the CBC to see if the film could be located. No luck.