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Wings Over Wick
Lloyd M. Goring, Mississauga, Ontario.
On the 26th of February 1942, I set sail for Britain, leaving behind my wife and infant son Larry. I had no idea that I would not see them again for 3 years, 7 months. Oh, how I would miss them.
Although as I have said I missed my family, I did have my younger brother Clare on the Squadron with me, one of four sets of brothers with the 404. One of the sets was separated at Wick when Eddie Ferrier was killed while we worked together one dark night in September 1943 on a Beaufighter which made an unexpected power turn catching Eddie with its prop. He is buried in the Wick cemetery. I see his brother Charlie upon occasion, which brings back some sad memories for me.
The 404 squadron R.C.A.F. arrived at RAF Station Wick in April 1943. We were in the midst of converting from Bristol Blenheims to a faster and more heavily armed aircraft - the Bristol Beaufighters. We learned to love the Beaufighter, at least until the De Havilland Mosquitos came on the scene in 1944. This airplane had speed to burn or at least we thought so 50 years ago! It was the fastest twin engined plane of that day.
The aircrew was kept busy, training on Beaufighters, before going operational with the Blenheims when necessary.
Wick aerodrome played a very important part in the success of many of the squadrons that were stationed there during the war. The base not only maintained operations but did an outstanding job of training new pilots and navigators for future, front line attack manoeuvres, using the new fire power that the Beaufighters possessed.
We of the ground crew were also busy since the serviceability of each and every aircraft was our top priority. Within a couple of weeks we handled our duties much easier and were able to go into town occasionally. Wick was a nice quiet town then, no doubt feeling the effects of war. Things were hard to come by but somehow the people were able to cope and seemed quite happy and friendly.
With all the young men in the services and no pubs to go to in the evening, Wick was a pretty dull place in 1943! However, it wasn't long before beer, wine, etc became available. Bootleg of course, but we took our chances and were never caught. Mind you, the meals at the base could best be described as simple, so it seemed sometimes that all we ever thought about was food. I remember when a shipment of Canadian creamed corn arrived - we were served it, for dessert. I still chuckle about that.
It sounds as though I am putting your hometown of Wick down, but really, I am not. The airdrome was quite a nice base and we Canadians liked it there.
The Victory Café was a restaurant we liked to visit. A woman and her two daughters ran it and the food was really great. We used to drop off our ration cards for them to use. Bacon and eggs with fries was a favourite and they never seemed to run out of all the necessary ingredients. I believe one of the daughters married a member of 404 squadron, Jim Huggins.
My wife, daughter and I flew to Scotland in September 1989 to represent the 404 squadron at the unveiling of the Banff Strike Wing Memorial. It was a very impressive event indeed. The following morning we set out by car from Banff to Wick. We arrived in the early afternoon. The North Sea was calm and we noticed oil rigs on the horizon, something we did not see during the war - just water and more water.
As we entered Wick we stopped at the cemetery where a few of my comrades are buried:-
F/S Josephson W/0 Seward CPL Westhouse
P/0 Long F/0 Horne CPL Ed Ferrier
I was so very pleased to see the cemetery so well maintained. I must take this opportunity to thank the people of Wick for the care they have taken in tending the final resting-place of our fallen comrades. Thank you all so very much.
We continued on then to RAF Station Wick. We had no trouble getting in and I was amazed to see the old flight tower still standing, also a few billets and old air raid shelters, used I think as storage sheds now.