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Wings Over Wick Index

Wings Over Wick
1939 - 1945

Mr Steven Batt, Dudley, Worcestershire
My father was stationed at Wick for a short period, on route to the Orkneys, during the spring/summer of 1940. He kept extensive diaries. My father was not a flier himself. He was a Royal Marine. He was sent to Wick and then onto the Orkneys in order to train for a mission to help the Norwegian people in their fight against Germany. As part of this training my father and others were seconded to RAF squadron 43, they flew over the North Sea defending against German attack. I am not certain as to what these flights had to do with my father's training but I do know that he flew in aircraft called Blackburn Betha aircraft. These aircraft were brought into service in early 1940 and were in fact withdrawn in late 1940 because they were deemed unsafe.

My father's diary has a total of seven entries, which refer to his stay in Wick. (Some words have been omitted although the meaning remains the same.)

"March 9th. Arrive in Wick by road transporter after trains suspended from Inverness, it is a blessed place, cold and harsh.  We are billeted at Ackergill.  It is four in the morning when we hit the hay.

March 10th.  A lovely spring morning and the old place looks somewhat more inviting today. Walked with Billy Ross and Tim to the town. We passed the airfield, Blackies and Spits being fine tuned, half the RAF must be here, this Norwegian thing is ready to take off.  Enjoyed what was our last day of leave until God knows when. Wrote the usual to Sylv.

March 13th. Flew recky with the old man (this possibly refers to Squadron Leader Lott, Commanding Officer of 43 squadron at the time) and got a Heinkel on our tail, managed to shake him off over the Orkneys. Glad to see the lighthouse through the mist. Had a spot of bother with locals in the town, some Jock punched a Flyer in that bar on Bridge Street. All hell let loose and the red caps had a field day. Letter from Sylv, she is lonely she says! Lonely!  I wish I was blessed with loneliness as my only worry. Word is, we are off to the old ruins for some training, all leave is off, looks like the kick-off for us soon.

March 20th. Saw more of the place today, a 24-hour leave did not give anyone a chance to get home so a bunch of us took the chance to see the sights. The model village was shut so we wasted a good two hours. We ended up sitting looking at Sinclair Bay from the ruins and getting tight on whisky (what else!). It's very cold still but the scenery fair takes your breath. The locals are less than welcoming but old Bill has hit it off with a fine lassie named Mary from the town. Needless to say he did not join us at the Castle!

March 24th. Well, we're off to the Orkneys next week and flying soon after. Things are hotting up. I'm not so much scared as apprehensive. The old man is flying about like a mad thing getting everything just so.  I have not heard from Sylv for ages but the truth is I am not too fussed.

March 25th. My turn for recky again. No bother but the sea is very rough, word has it three vessels went down in the bad weather last night. Wrote to Sylv telling her to forget it. Bill has fixed me up with Mary's sister, we have a 24 tomorrow.

March 26th. A great day! Apart from her almost indistinguishable accent I got on really well with Beth or Bess (I still don't know what her name is - Elizabeth I suppose). We left Bill and Mary in the bar and walked up through Hillhead and along the airfield fence to the lighthouse.  It took hours but I did not notice the time. I have never enjoyed myself so much, I am sitting now in my billet and waiting to scramble for the off. I want to see her again but will I? I hate this war."

On March 27th my father left for the Orkneys. He landed on the Norwegian Coast on June 6th 1940 as part of a special reconnaissance force. He was wounded on June l0th and taken prisoner of war.

He was held for the duration of the war at various camps around eastern Germany and Poland including the infamous Colditz near Leipzig. He was freed by American forces in May 1945 and returned to England in July 1945.