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Wings Over Wick
|James McMallan, Aberdeen
I was an aircrew member of 612 squadron, that was the City of Aberdeen Auxiliary Squadron, which was formed in 1937-38. Being an auxiliary squadron we all volunteered to give up our spare time from our work, we trained two evenings per week and reported to Dyce drome at weekends. My first flight was in a bi-plane called a Hawker Hector. This was in 1938. To cut a long story short, the squadron was called up on 23rd August 1939.
The squadron was posted from Dyce to Wick early in 1941. My best memory and one which I will never forget was meeting Mr and Mrs Ben McKay who lived in the bottom house on the road to the drome. They had two sons, Benny, Donnie and a daughter called Nancy. Benny had a bakery round, Donny was an engine driver in Leeds and Nancy worked in Woolworths. Mr and Mrs McKay used to invite my pal and I into their house of an evening to enjoy a chat, a game of cards, a nice cup of tea and best of all a heat at the fire.
When we got leave, Ben supplied the eggs and the chicken to take home to Aberdeen where eggs were in short supply. I have no doubt both Ben and Mrs McKay will be dead now but I will never forget the kindness they extended to my pal and I during my 12months service at Wick. As for the town itself, I can remember Mackays Hotel, the Station Hotel, the Chic Cafe, the picture house, the Nethercliffe Hotel, Woolworths, the Post Office and the Italian shop down the hill towards the harbour and not forgetting trying to play bowls on your bowling green.
It was at Wick that we lost our first aircrew. They overshot the runway coming in to land and landed in the sea. A few Aberdonians were amongst the crew. We also lost another crew when again coming in to land it flew into your hospital killing all the crew. We did have one craft shot down by a German sub, which duly rescued the crew and took them back to Germany as POW’s.
Of course we had our good times. My skipper was awarded the D.F.C. whilst at Wick so we went down to Lybster to celebrate. That is a good memory of Wick. I must tell you of our first visit to Lybster. Four of us decided one day to take the bus to Lybster to have a look around. It never entered our heads to ask about buses back to Wick so when we decided to return we discovered the last bus left the Portland Arms Hotel at 5.00pm. We then had to enter the Hotel to plan our next move. I will just say we had to walk back to Wick arriving about 5.00am. Entering the hotel was a good memory of Wick but the walk back was not so good.