Stories from George Doughty Archive

The following has been extracted from a letter dated 2nd June 2000, written by the late George Doughty to a friend. George tells some humorous stories about personnel and events associated with Silloth Airfield. 

“[…] I have had further communication with Bill Sparkes the F/Eng. He proffered the suggestion that I’d written Jack when his name is Bill also known as Ned. He told me a great story of him and Rocky Scheerboom collecting a Dak. To bring it back to silloth. They heard that the weather was “iffy” but thought they would get nearer home any way. They overflew Hawarden and asked them for Silloth weather and they agreed that it wasn’t good but they pushed on, thought they would have a look for themselves.

The Silloth weather was terrible. Pouring with rain cloud right down to the deck and visibility just not good enough, so they turned back over the sea and went south. As they approached Walney Island they thought that would be OK but getting dark. Rocky said, “I think we should have the nav. lights on” “where’s the switch?” says Bill. Rocky didn’t know. By this time it was getting dark and they were proceeding on finals, and they needed the cockpit instrument lights, to read the ASI. They didn’t know where the switches were’ Bill says “It finished up with me, striking matches with my nose almost touching the glass, shouting out the speed s as we landed.”

What followed was equally amusing. Having waited a while and going across to an empty tower, they realised it was an abandoned airfield. However “Mr Plod” turned up to find out what was going on. So they told their story of trying to get it up to silloth and was told that they couldn’t  put a guard on the aircraft and Rocky thought they would have to stay with it all night. Things softened after a pint in the canteen and a game of snooker with the boys in blue and eventually they got digs in Barrow. A double bed having to be shared. In later years Bill said, he was reading and shouted to his wife “Rocky Scheerboom is in the Aircrew Association Magazine.” “Did you know him then? “Know him, I’ve slept with him.”

He told of another trip with Rocky bringing a Lincoln down from Lossiemouth on a Friday afternoon’ The ETA was 17.30 hrs so they thought with a little throttle bending they might be OK, however, on arrival the aerodrome was closed so they would just have to see if anyone was about and leave it.  Going round the peri-track Rocky said “Clear right?” and Bill said “OK,” As Rocky leaned over to check there was a tremendous bang and about 3 feet of the port wing was knocked off on the girder work that the hangar door travels on when open. All they could do was park it and leave it. It looked terrible! He said “I never heard another thing about it. I don’t know if Rocky did.” From that I can only assume it was a scrapper they were moving down to Silloth, hence no problems, straight down to F site.

Bill, like Ed, had a tour behind him on ops. with Bomber Command 431 Sqdn. RCAF and came out when he was 55 years of age in 1979 as Fl.Lt after leaving the service in 1947 and rejoining in 1948 .

His letter shows he was at silloth when George Duffy was the CO. and P/O Dodds was always on the taxi aircraft and when Ft.Lt. Leo de Vigne went to Westlands on demob. He writes most amusingly. Any memories yet?

Another letter I have just written is to an ex22MU test pilot. He lives on the Isle of Man and his name is Bill Hasselstrom. [….private section not included here…] . He was on 6cOTU and had a problem with night vision so stood down and flew the Martinet, on drogue towing’. Then after an ATA Test pilots course, they posted him to the MU. in JUne 1944.

In Aug. 1945 posted to the Test Pilots Pool at RAF Lyneham. He lodged at Nith view with Mrs Wilson. He flew Hurricanes, Oxfords, Ansons and the early Mk.1 Mustangs and then after another course later on tested Wellinglons and Hudsons while at Silloth.”

Acknowledgement: George Doughty Archives.

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