Augustus (Jim) Spooner

Augustus, known as Jim Spooner was with the Air Ministry Constabulary who provided security at RAF airfields. The photo below is provided courtesy of his son George, and shows Jim in uniform – taken circa 1940. .

Augustus (Jim) Spooner. Circa 1940. Air Ministry Constabulary. Photo courtesy of George Spooner
Augustus (Jim) Spooner. Circa 1940. Air Ministry Constabulary. Photo courtesy of George Spooner

The short story below was sent to Helen Strickland on email by George Spooner who now lives in Australia.

“The house we lived in was on RAF airfield property. It was a fairly new 3-bedroom, semi-detached house  built, presumably, for married quarters but originally occupied by airmen. We were in the end closer to the cemetery. Actually, when we first moved there the adjoining house was still occupied by airmen, namely four dog handlers. The dog kennels were just off the bottom of the above pic. The house next door was also given over to married quarters some months later. A relic of its Service use was a huge Tannoy loudspeaker connected to the Station public address system. We used to get the Station announcements until Dad disconnected it – the daily 6 am wake-up call was an announcement too far – and too loud.

The only other buildings there at the time were the guardhouse buildings near the bottom of the pic. and Polly Timperon’s farm buildings on the opposite side of the main road. None of those structures to the left of the farmhouse existed when we were there. The road in front of the guardhouse which now looks like a track used to be a wide tarmac road, part of the airfield perimeter road. It was quite common to see large aircraft, e.g. Consolidated B-24 ‘Liberator’ bombers, Avro ‘Lancasters’ and ‘Yorks’, etc. being towed along there from the airfield to the two hangars behind the new cemetery.

In the late 1940s much of the surrounding land south of the main road was given over to temporary storage of wrecked aircraft parts. It was an irresistible magnet and a veritable paradise for young lads, totally prohibited of course but security then was quite lax so we were never caught. Just about every aircraft type operated by the RAF seemed to be broken up there and lying around in piles of debris. Huge mounds of tyres, piles of Spitfire and Hurricane instrument panels, wings and fuselage parts. Piles of fuel tanks of which we purloined two or three. We’d cut off the thick fire protectant rubber coating with great difficulty and hack a large hole in the top using one of the many fire axes which were around (all the large aircraft were fitted with one) and use them as boats on the beck which ran alongside the road using poles to propel ourselves. On one occasion we travelled all the way down to the marshes on the Skinburness road.

I remember the first post-war ‘Open Day’ held at the airfield. One of the events was a ‘crazy flying’ stunt  where a pilot dressed in some outlandish costume ‘steals’ a Tiger Moth aeroplane and pretends he doesn’t know how to fly. The highlight of the day for young lads if not for anyone else, was that during the display he touched down on the grass crosswise to the runway obviously intending to lift off again but unfortunately, the wheels hit the edge of the runway and ripped half of the undercarriage off! So we had a real emergency. He crash landed out of sight on the far side of the airfield without injury I think.”

 

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