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Wings Over Wick
W. D. (Wally) Thomsett, North Vancouver, B.C.
In the spring of 1943 we escorted an aircraft called the "Hampden" which was also twin engined but was very slow. It was difficult to work with this aircraft on the Norwegian Coast when a turn was negotiated because they were so slow, our planes on the inside of the turn, nearly lost their airspeed and just about stalled into the sea. The Hampden carried a torpedo. We had cannons. Later we carried rockets, 4 under each wing, 4 were armour piercing and 4 were high explosive. The enemy called our plane "Whispering Death".
We have several of our group buried at Wick. They were ones who crashed on the station. Most of our other casualties were shot down in the ocean or flew into the ocean on the way over to Norway. We used to fly about 50 ft above the North Sea to avoid the radar of the Germans. Often the salt spray from the wild North Sea stuck to our windshields so that it was almost impossible to see.
You were curious about what it was like to live in Wick during the war. No one really lived in Wick, ie moved into a house, etc. We all lived on the station in rooms, which housed 2 people each. We had "bat women" who cleaned our shoes, uniform buttons, etc. This was kind of nice if you were an officer (which I was). The NCO's (Non-Commissioned Officers) didn't get the deluxe treatment we received.
Now with regards to Wick itself, we found only one pub in the town because the story is told that when the fishermen were out at sea, their wives voted against pubs and, therefore, it was the only town in Scotland with no "drinking holes".
Actually, most of our entertainment was on the station. We didn't expect much as we were really too wrapped up in what we were doing to enjoy any activities the town may have to offer. I seem to recall a dance hall in the lower level of the local theatre, where we had a lot of fun.