614290 A.C. FORD.
In 1938 and 1939 I was stationed at RAF Church Fenton, and was attached to S.H.Q. and was on general duties. At the time the 2 Squadrons were 72 and 64. 72 Squadron was firstly Gloster Gladiators and later Spitfires. 64 was Hawker Demon Bi-planes changing to Bristol Blenheim (short nosed). The C.O. of 72 was Sdn Leader Lees and the 64 Sdn Leader was Herbert Percy who I remember had a very modern car (Hotchcis?) I remember then, the tall F.O. Nicholson [James Nicholson, the only Fighter Command pilot to win the Victoria Cross], and I had my first flight with P.O.George, Australian pilot Sheen , Sgt Norfolk and P.O. Fry. The Station Commander was Wing Commander Harris and the station adjutant was Sdn Leader Beamish.
72 hangar was nearest the road, between it and the road was the little gas chamber (tear gas). Whilst I was there a Blenheim disappeared, and was found quite a while later up on the Pennines, Sheffield, Manchester area. I think the crew were Sth Africans. One of the duties I did was on guard for about a week on a crashed Harrow Bomber at a little village called Kirk Smeaton. I liked it very much as we had all our meals and drinks in the village pub called The "Shoulder Of Mutton". We used to go to Tadcaster quite a lot and frequent the pub owned by Jimmy Scriveens, one of the boys was married to his daughter.
At the beginning of the war some of us went up to Upper Heyford on the way to France. We boarded a big 4-engined bi-plane called "Hannibul". It was Imperial Airways and the pilot was the bearded Captain Jones. we taxied out and the flight was aborted, why, we never knew, and returned to Church Fenton. I think the planes searched for the submarine "Thetis". It was found sunk in Liverpool Bay whilst on its trials, salvaged and renamed Thunderbolt. It was lost during the war.
I remember Smoky Toes were we used to call in on the way back to camp. Two of the boys I knew were A.C. Dawson, a very good violinist, and LAC Rolfe who played the saxophone. I returned to Church Fenton in 1942 from 60 MU, and did modifications to a Blenheims engines. It was under some kind of tent I think up near the rifle range. I returned to 60 MU Shipton after about 2 weeks.
Mons Andrew Ford.