Having survived an air-crash at 26 O.T.U. in February, 1944, I found myself stranded without a crew until May, 1944 when I joined up with a Scottish crew (Pilot F/Sgt. Morrison) at 1657 Con. unit flying Stirling’s, and then at 304 F .T. U. Melton Mowbray where we picked up a brand new MK4 Stirling L.K.179 on 31 July 1944. We left the U.K from St. Morgan's, Cornwall to go to RABAT SALE in Morocco.
On arriving in North Africa we had to be diverted to an American Aerodrome (Port Lyautey) near Casablanca due to early morning mist covering our original destination. Having had a typical american breakfast, we went back to the dispersal area to continue our flight, and to our amazement, the area was surrounded by personnel looking aghast at our ungainly contraption towering over a diminutive flying fortress, which had been placed under its wing! We were, needless to say, subjected to a lot of questions about our capabilities, and of course we made the most of it, comparing our total armament being those four little things stuck out at the back, (.303) to theirs like a bristling porcupine (0.5) facing all directions, also the fact that we could carryover three times the weight of a fortress. After a brief stay in RABAT SALE we reached our final destination of 624 Sqd. at BLIDA in Algiers on 2nd August 1944. As it is now over 56 years ago when this happened I have great difficulty in trying to remember ~ details of the time. I can remember living in a tent in the middle of the desert with sand and sand everywhere, and during the day time sweating it out under a mosquito net to keep the flies off, and occasional siroccos where we had to get up in the middle of the night to hold the tent down! According to my log book I had 3 flights as 2nd dispatcher dropping supplies to partisans in France north of the Pyrenees. One with F/Lt. Garnnet and two with W.O. Paullden. On one of those occasions we dropped an ex Mayor and 2 other Frenchmen in the target area. My 4th flight was with my own crew and we took approximately 12 French Foreign Legion chaps to drop over France. I can remember bringing them all up in the fuselage when the time came, and sent them off in line. What I didn't cater for was the gradual acceleration between the first and the last to go, so at the end the last few were running down the fuselage, and unfortunately when the last one jumped there was aloud bang, and I can only assume that with his momentum he must have hit his head on the rear of the escape hatch on the way down. If anyone knows what happened to those french soldiers I should be very interested.
On my last trip on the 1-2 September, 1944 we couldn't get any contact with the partisans and so brought all the cargo back with us. Unfortunately we had spent so much time over the area that we were running short of fuel so I was ordered to drop everything out over the sea. Luckily we just made it landing at MAISON BLANCHE. After this the two fronts must have met in the Normandy and Marseilles landings and so our efforts were no longer required; 624 Sqd. was therefore disbanded, and we finished up in a transit camp at FORT L'EAUTY outside Algiers. In December the crew was sent back to the U.K. and I alone was posted to 293 A.S.R. in Italy. Initially I was stationed at POMIGLIANO (Naples) then on detachment to FOGGIA, up to CENCENATICO (North of Rimini) when the war finished. And then to RIVOLTO (west of Udine) where we were flying in Warwick’s with a boat underneath. Also with this Squadron was 624 A.S.R. Squadron flying Walruses, and I met many of the crews. It is still strange to me how and why 624 changed from 4 engines supply dropping to 1engine seaplanes.
Finally in March 1946 the Squadron was disbanded and the rest is another tale.