Dear Simon ,
Firstly I will introduce myself :
My name is Peter Wolfendale son of John Wolfendale . My Father being in 92 squadron ground crew 1940 at Pembrey and Biggin hill.
I am living in Aurora , Ontario , Cananda.
Secondly I would like to thank you for publishing your E-book on 92 squadron , you put a lot of effort into gathering such a lot of detail such as transcribing the ORB's. ALSo it is nice you recognised the contribution of the ground crew not just the pilots.
I really didn't know that my father was in such an important squadron until late in life .the names he mentioned didn't mean anything until I started to do searches in the early days of the internet.
The first time I got to put things together was when the film "battle of Britain" was released and my father wrote a letter to the Chester Newspaper when they offered tickets to the opening to anybody that wrote of their experiences. ( A copy at the end of this email )
I was surprised that life at Pembrey wasn't just a holiday , I could have got the impression that life in South Wales would be relaxing down by the coast , the ORB says otherwise.
After being at Biggin Hill my father ended up back in South Wales at carew cheriton and other airfields until 1945 . around may 1945 he was sent to north africa until mid 1946 when he left the RAF.
My mother was in the WAAF also in south Wales where she met my father and got married in 1944.
The hardcopy copy of "Fly for your life" mentioned in my fathers letter is with me in Canada.
Once again thanks for all your impressive work.
The Chester Observer Friday 27th November 1970 to mark the showing of one of the most historic films, “The Battle of Britain”. also on the memories website at the BBC.
A Wonderful Team
By Mr J Wolfendale, who was ground crew man with Spitfires at Biggin Hill, a bone of contention for Luftwaffe bombers and RAF fighters during the Battle of Britain.
To mark the showing of one of the most historic films, “The Battle of Britain”, I am proud to say I was able to serve in that wonderful team, the fighter branch of the Royal Air Force, on the ground.
I volunteered for the RAF and the Flight Mechanic Airframe trade, and in June, 1940, was posted to No. 92 (spitfire) Squadron, Northolt, Middlesex (Greater London), to serve under that great leader, Stanford Tuck, and his team Bob Holland, Alan Wright, Roy Mottram, Titch Havercroft, Hargreaves, Tony Bartley, Brian Kingcome, and many others.
By this time the squadron had been re-named No. 92 East India Squadron, and moved to Pembrey, Carmarthenshire. I saw many pilots off on a scramble, strapped them in the cockpit, gave the windscreen a last wipe to remove any speck which might have confused them when they were looking for a target and wished them the best of luck as they gave the thumbs-up sign for “Chocks away.”
Later, I would receive them back and paint another “kill” on the side of the aircraft… ready for another mission, which was not long.
It was a cloudy day as I sat in the tiny cockpit of the spitfire, doing some repair and service jobs: a train was passing the airfield and a Jerry was heard overhead in the clouds.. following the train down the line.
I got the signal to press the button to start up the spitfire engine, to get Tuck into the cockpit. The Jerry dropped his bombs on a local factory and turned over the airfield as Tuck took off across the field.
Will he make it in time? Will he? Yes.
I dived under a petrol bowser as the defence guns opened up. Soon Tuck returned, only a half-gallon of petrol left, and I painted another “kill” on the little aircraft.
Soon, Tuck was posted to another squadron, and my favourite became Titch Havercroft… as “Titch” was also my nickname in the RAF.
On 6th September, our Squadron was ordered to Biggin Hill, Kent, which had been getting a hammering, and by 11a.m. that day we were there and operational.
From the air Biggin Hill looked like a golf course bunkers everywhere, flags flying denoting delayed action bombs.
We worked 24 hours a day snatching sleep during lulls. Still the Jerry bombers came, hitting us night after night, and we would ride out on the tail plane from dispersal to point of takeoff, and see the pilot off on another scramble.
It was hard making such good friends and losing some of them within minutes. We were proud of the pilots to whom we all owe so much, and have special feelings for the mothers and fathers. They will always have our gratitude.
Today, I am still building aircraft, and always look up with a special thought when one passes over.
I shall go and see the film with my wife, who played her part in the WAAF during the Battle of Britain, and with our children. It will bring back many memories.
When I was in the Royal Infirmary, Chester, for an operation, my ward neighbour passed on to me Stanford Tuck’s book “Fly For Your Life”. While there I also read Douglas Bader’s “Reach For The Sky”.
Later, when I was convalescent, my wife came home from a jumble sale with a handsome illustrated edition of Tuck’s “Fly For Your Life”, which is a cherished personal possession … together with memories of the finest hours.