102 (Ceylon) Squadron

Tentate et perficite (Attempt and Achieve)

Sergeant Edward M. Cooke - 961779

Ed has been good enough to send us a whole bunch of things, so much so that we have made several pages for you all to look at.

R.A.F.V.R. - Topcliffe - 102 Squadron - 'A' Flight - Frankfurt et al - Dalton - Orders is Orders - Sentanced to Life

Webmasters Thanks

My time with the R.A.F.V.R. by Ed Cooke

1938 A large advertisement in the Staffordshire Evening Sentinel to say they were forming the VR and wanted people to join as pilots,so in to Hanley on the Saturday,passed all the tests but being only 17 they gave ne a form for my parents to sign which I knew was a lost cause.

1939 January after my 18th birthday,back to Hanley only to be told they were full and would let me know of any vacancies.
September to the recruiting office,the first thing they asked was where I worked and then "OUT OUT" we can't talk to you as you are in a reserved occupation,foiled again it seems.
October,hoping they didn't recognise me I was back again and this time I was ready for them,told them a few stories,was accepted for pilot training but as the schools were full it would be quite a time,would stop in occasionally only to be told they would let me know.

1940 April 22nd my buddy stopped in to tell me that he was leaving on the Friday having joined the RAF as Aircrew,Wireless Operator/Air Gunner.thought about it then changed my category and I went to Cardington with him and others on Friday April 26th.
Saturday passed all the tests and physicals and ended up in a room sitting in frint of a clerk who swore me in and then passed a badge across the desk and said I was to go home and they would call me,I passed it back and said absolutely no way,here was and if I went home they wouldn't get me back."SIR SIR,this man won't go home" so this Officer came over and I told him the same thing,he then told me I could stay.
After about two weeks of kitting out,marching etc a train pulled into camp,loaded us all aboard and off we went to end up on a seaside holiday at Morecambe where we went through all the courses at the end of which there were about ten of us singled out and told we were going to Ruislip,they gave me all the papers took us to the station and that was it.We acted as file clerks until our posting came through to No 2 Wireless School,4 wing at Yatebury.
         On DRO's one day they asked for volunteers to remuster to pilot so off I went and passed again,in early November we passed out and 15 of us were posted to No 2 B & GS at Stormy Down the number were made up from a course at Compton Bassett,Stormy Down and we were billeted in the dance hall at the end of the pier,Wet,after a couple of weeks most of the fellows were in hospital so they commandeered all the empty house in Porthcawl and put us in those.One of the instructors,a P/O told us that whoever came top of the class would be offered a commission but it would cost money as kit allowance was 40 pounds and it would take three times that.Surprise,Baird and I came top of the class and we both went into see the C.O.and turned down the commission so we were like every one else Sergeants.

1941 After ten days leave five of us reported in to 106 Squadron at Finningley where we were attached to the Crew Training School to learn all about the new Marconi sets 1154 & 1155,only flew a couple of times local in February,put my logbook into headquarters for signing Mar.1st,the next day a Me110 dropped out of the clouds and laid three eggs on us,one hit headquarters and so went my logbook,a few days later and the five of us were posted to 19 OTU at Kinloss.

On completion there, four of us were posted to 102 Squadron at Topcliffe where we started our tour on Whitleys,for some reason I was sent to Marconi College in London on a two week course.I flew six trips as Air Gunner then a new Flight Commander came in and asked me to be his W/Op.Returning from leave in November to find that my crew had been shot down and only the tail gunner survived and was a POW.
The whole station moved to Dalton while they installed runways at Topcliffe and we converted over to Halifax 11's,finished my tour in July '42 and posted back to 19 OTU Kinloss.
While there got my crowns and galloping horses also sent to Edinburgh for Aircrew Medical,finally found out as I was posted on a pilots course in August 1943.

1943 Posted to A.C.R.C.in London which was in a block of flats on Prince Albert Road in Regents Park,reporting in and the C.O.was a F/O who I don't think had seen a W.O. before but he gave me a list of the intake and asked me to look after it,on it were 7 more W/Op.AG's who were F/Sgts.plus nearly 200 new recruits.We spent two weeks there,the new recruits going through all the usual B.S.then we were posted to I.T.W.at Scarborough.
Scarborough.11 I.T.W. we were split into the four wings and the eight of us also split into the four wings,here we did ten weeks of groundschool and on passing out were posted to Brough flying Tiger Moths on pilot evaluation,on completion there at the end of the year we were posted to Heaton Park Manchester to await postings to flying training schools.Met up with the rest of the boys who were now W.O.'s and just sat around waiting,the hardest thing we did was to collect our pay every two weeks plus snooker and billiards in the Mess.

1944 Finally on the 8th of May we were on a draft and aboard the Isle de France heading out in the ocean and finally after ten days pulled into New York to quite a welcome of bands playing etc.we were taken over to Hoboken and put on a train for Moncton,New Brunswick,Canada,arriving there a day and a half later.Here again we didn't have a thing to do except collect pay every two weeks and we were on RCAF rates of pay from 13/6 to $7:05 a day,quite a difference.

The second front openned in Europe and here we were still sitting and rumours of them cancelling the Empire Air Training Scheme so the beginning of August was talking to the rest of the boys and suggested we go to the C.O.and find out what was what,they said being my idea I should go,so off I went and told him of our concerns,he phoned later in the day to say an AVM would be coming in from Ottawa to see us.The next day we met with him and I explained our predicament,he assured us that we would be getting our course for which I thanked him but also asked if we couldn't be used at some flying station in the country instead of wearing out the seat of our pants in the mess,he said that this was a good idea and to pick a camp and we would be posted there,my buddy closed his eyes and stuck a pin in the map and came up Moose Jaw,right in the middle of the prairies.
Sure enough there was a SFTS there from Tern Hill,so off the two of us went,W.O.'s travelled first class so we enjoyed the four day trip with a weekend stop over in Winnipeg.
Moose Jaw,here we were given the job of Air Traffic Control,so the two of us ran the control tower,this was an RAF station complete with similar rations to UK,which in someways was ridiculous here in the land of plenty.Mid-October and the station was to be closed and returned to the UK so they posted us to Training Headquarters in Calgary,didn't know what to do with us there so off we went on 3 weeks leave,on our return posted to No.2 Wireless School in Calgary,my hobby being photography put me in charge of the photo section and this I did until the 12th.of December when we were all posted to 23 E.F.T.S.at Davidson to finally start our pilots course after a whole year of wasting time.
Davidson is in Saskatchewan midway between Moore Jaw and Sakatoon and so small one misses it,mainly grain elevators.23 E.F.T.S.was a R.C.A.F.station,some things were a little different but the food was fantastic compared to RAF at Moose Jaw,here we learned to fly on Fairchild Cornells.midway through the course the whole station moved to Yorkton,a little farther north but at least the town was bigger.Winter time and it was cold got down to -50 deg.F one night,finally passing out early February.
Gimli,Manitoba,we were posted into 18 S.F.T.S.flying Anson's and again half way through the course the whole station moved to Souris we obtained our wings on July 12th,45 and for two minutes I was out of the RAF,discharged at 2359 and back as a P.O.at 0001 hours,dodged it all these years but this time they didn't ask.Back to Moncton,only there a short time then train to Halifax and the A Pasteur to Southampton,but what a welcome,nothing except the announcement that the dockworkers may go on strike the following day and we would have to stay aboard but I think after a few kinds words from quite a bunch of us they decided to work and we arrived in Harrogate the evening of Wednesday Aug 2nd.

October and posted to 28 EFTS at Wolverhampton at Boutlon Paul,was offered a short service commissiion,filled out all the papers,demob number came up in June,the C.O. asked about the short service commission,caled Air Ministry,they had lost the papers and would send another set,told him what to do with them,been messed around enough and this man was going home.


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