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Wings Over Wick Index

Wings Over Wick
1939 - 1945
Squadron 612

Mr H J Belcher, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
I shall be pleased to tell you of my experiences during 1941 when our squadron 612 was based at Wick. I was proud to fly in a Whitley as they were one of our largest long range bombers at that time, although we did have a lot of trouble with the engines and lost quite a lot of crews as we could not maintain height if one of the engines failed, we were always conscious of this.

The purpose of our duties was to escort convoys, to search for and attack enemy submarines and surface vessels and to reconnoitre the Norwegian coastal area including bombing raids, for this we carried an extra fuel tank.

Convoy and submarine duty was very tiring. Convoy duty involved finding and giving ships instructions on how to form up again after they had dispersed owing to enemy action. This often happened at night and for this we used our primitive radar and wireless. Submarine duty involved sweeping the sea around convoys and attacking U-boats with depth charges.

There were quite a few crashes on the airfield including an aircraft of our squadron running over the cliffs into the sea with no survivors. Most of the crashes at Wick involved Hudson aircraft, which worked with us. The airfield was bombed and machine gunned several times and on one occasion a hangar was hit and set on fire, damaging a number of aircraft. Some of us volunteered to climb on the roof with fire extinguishers before the fire brigade arrived and were fired on by an enemy bomber returning to check the damage.

I lived on the camp though a number of airmen were billeted in private houses in the town. Our billets in camp were spartan but as aircrew we had the luxury of sheets on our beds.