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Wings Over Wick
In 1940 I served with the RAF in Wick, spending a very happy 7 months there before a 4-year stint overseas. My squadron was "269" of Coastal Command flying American built Lockheed Hudsons, though on my arrival the squadron had some Avro Ansons which were being phased out.
Number 43 squadron, flying Hawker Hurricanes were also stationed there. A few Spitfires, painted sky-blue were also flown from Wick on Photographic Reccies. Stripped of all unnecessary gear and guns they relied on head down speed to make a get-away after taking pictures.
The camp had a very happy atmosphere - to me, a Keith loon, a real home from home. Two incidents marred my stay slightly. The camp was attacked one late afternoon by three Heinkel twin-engined bombers dropping a string of bombs across the camp, machine guns firing as they went. Unfortunately civilians were killed on the perimeter of the airfield. A large boulder dislodged from a bomb crater, came through the roof of our hut but no-one was hurt, most of the lads being elsewhere.
On the second occasion a Dornier flying boat flying harmlessly over the camp was shot down by Hurricanes of 43 squadron once it crossed the coast. I often wonder if it was ever recovered from the sea-bed.
Before my arrival a Jerry plane was forced down after being shot up, some crew members were killed and it was a bit of a mess. Many of the locals soon had perspex rings and such like supplied from the plane wreckage. However, so much of it was going missing the remainder had to be spirited away for "safe keeping".
The drome at that time was very poorly defended - I can only remember two machine gun posts. Rifles were few and far between. Invasion scares were rife at that time and any alarm we had to make a run for the ditches nearest. Shades of Dad's Army eh!!!
One snag at the time - Wick was dry and we had to hire a bus on Saturday nights to take us to Thurso if we wanted a 'refreshment'. As a very healthy 19-year-old, I had my quota of weaknesses. My next 4 years were spent in West Africa, Malta, Sicily and Italy, but nothing could erase my happy memories of Wick.