Contributed by Rod Jones (1967 – 69)
Having noted the dearth of names and dates around 1967- 1969, I thought I’d send a recollection of interest to those who remember those “Shiny Two’s” from next door at Gutersloh. I refer to Two Sqn, whose hanger was to the left (looking out the front door) and a little nearer the end of the runway… No wonder they didn’t have to change their tyres so often. (Not a problem for you Harrier folks, I guess.)
If memory serves, one warm and sunny afternoon in late 1968, there was this God awful prolonged “Bang!”. The kind of noise you don’t really recognize but somehow just know wasn’t good… Slowly, those of us working on kites in the hanger began to venture out the front door to see what all the noise was about. No real point in being hasty, after all the border wasn’t that far away, right? Absolutely nothing to be seen… except for the small waft of gray smoke drifting up out of the open doors of “Shiny Two’s” hanger.
One or two chaps were seen to emerge through the doors, patting their ears and looking somewhat lost. Some one (I believe an Electrician or was that “scapegoat”?) had managed to fire all 4 Aden cannon, whilst on jacks, during a firing circuit check. It would seem the pack had not been dropped and the barrels had not been drawn forward. The circuit test box was plugged into the wrong socket and the end result was a very loud and prolonged “Bang”. A very surprised electrician and some very disappointed armourers. Apart from the chap who did the aiming point adjustment.
Legend has it that of the 4 cannon, which to conform with prevailing regs were loaded with ball ammo for the first five rounds, 3 had HE shells in the breach and the 4th had the last ball round ready to go, when the finger managed to let off. No mean task when you consider 600 rounds a minute, though this kind of reaction time is probably directly proportional to the speed it takes to fill ones pants.
The neat hole in the opposite side of the hanger proved that the aim point was indeed right on. All rounds had skimmed off the concrete roof and exited through the wall and crew briefing room and found their way into the earth embankment protecting the MFPU, via a window. I had heard that the only injury was a pilot in the briefing room, who was bent over a chart, route planning. When a round managed to sever one side of a neon light fixture, which swung down and struck him smartly on the side of the head. Rendering him non compos mentis.
It’s to be noted that following this incident the armament safety manual, which all trades had to read and signed upon arrival, went from a boring 0.5 inch to an even more boring 2 inches thick, overnight. Seemed to have worked though. I didn’t hear of any more gunfire in the hanger after that.
Puts a new light on whomever it was that said, “I have seen the enemy and the enemy is us”. Or put another way ” If the Russian’s can’t get us …Two Sqn might “. Throwing up an arm, the long way.
These photos were taken sometime in 1968. The tower was just to our right (next building down) and Shiney Two’s Hangar was to our left. It is hard to remember the names of the troop, I am sorry to say. Could be I’m just getting to be an old fart… 🙂
Chief Tech Brazier was the man in charge of the Instrument/Electrical section. Cpl Meek, who had been an instructor at Melksham when I did my basic instrument training, left a few months after I got there. Sqn Ldr Hopkins was the Boss. A tall man, who you do not forget…:) Flt/Lt Ken Petrie who became a Sqn Ldr was another pilot, Flt Lt Bill Shepherd, one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of meeting, also was the only pilot to have to land out. He had an engine failure and landed somewhere in Northern Germany. They repaired the kite up there and I believe the Boss flew it back some months later. The spine was bent and it was a bit of a handful. I think it was 42 MU came out to try to recover it. First time I had seen a Queen Mary.
J/T then Cpl (?Deputy?) Doig who was Airframes, met a German girl who used to baby sit for his Chief. After that we didn’t see much of him at all… SAC Andy Scott, who took us to Oberamagau skiing that first winter. Scared the pants of us driving a 1950 VW Beetle (split screen) down snow-covered mountain roads that I would not have even walked down in summer.
Well, like I always say, memory is strange and now I have a focus perhaps some of the info will come back. I am sure I arrived at Gutersloh in the Summer of 1966 and left in early 1969.
In this photo, which has to be the winter of either 1967 or 1968, you can see us busy moving the white stuff. Of the individuals shown, the 2nd from the right is a radio Cpl (still haven’t twigged the name) 5th from the right is the back of Nobby Clark, Instrument SAC. 8th from the right is Cpl Smith, Electrician. (Man, it’s sad being an old fart, but the others haven’t come back yet…) The building in the background is the Tower. We are on the East end of the base. The Rock Apes ran the fire section out of the near end of the tower complex. Handy if we ever needed them… It is to be noted that the sergeants and above wear brown dust coats and the guys, what ever you got handy… 🙂
This is taken between the two hangers of IV Sqn and 2 Sqn. We are looking east to 2 Sqn. The lump in the way is the German Air Raid shelter that doubled as the Mobile Field Photographic Unit. (MFPU) In whose bowls were developed all the film we gave to the Army Interpreters. Left to R, I’m fairly sure it’s Sac Derrick Routlidge, Sgt ?, Not sure and Cpl Warren. I think these fellows are all airframe bods. The crossed shovels do not have any significance other than to show that the Royal Air Force can afford new shovels but not a plow…:)
In this one you can see the Line Hut, where untold hours were spent waiting for the return of the Hunters. Consuming vast amounts of tea and hot meat pies. Chief Tech Lee can be seen far left. Not 100% sure of the name. But I am pretty sure he was Airframes.
Now there’s something you don’t see every day…. Twin Vipers bolted to a bowser. Figure there’s enough fuel behind you to keep it from blowing backwards under full tit and also enough to cremate you should it go horribly wrong. Not to worry though, when it starts to shed blades and catch fire you just sprint smartly over the nice little bridge that is put there for the purpose of egress and run like hell, Or, see if you can catch up to the bowser driver. It not only moved ice and snow, it removed any loose tarmac too. Look Mum, no more FOD. Yes son, but no more runway either…
I have also been talking with Collin Medhurst and we are hoping to jog each others memories re names. He is also looking for old pics…
Oh yes, and when did the (AC) get put into the Squadron name? I don’t remember that at all.