N E W S F E E D S >>>
Wings Over Wick Index

Wings Over Wick
1939 - 1945

Mr C F Cheekley,  Newport Pagnell, Bucks
I joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1940 and after a training period at Morecambe on Sea, was posted to Linton on Ouse in Yorkshire to join No 4 Group Bomber Command as a ground crew member. But late in 1942 we were transferred to Coastal Command at St Eval in Cornwall to combat the menace of the German submarines. On Wednesday July 29th, the squadron was ordered to fly up to Skitten near Wick, a satellite aerodrome. I remember about 30 of us were detailed to make the journey, but due to weather conditions were taken by motor coach along the North Devon coast to Chivenor where after a midday meal we boarded a big old transport plane - a Handley Page Harrow and took off at 3.10. Luckily we each had a toolbox to sit on and after a sometimes bumpy ride-particularly over the Grampians - arrived at Wick at 7.15. During a brief stay at Skitten my plane did a coastal operation. (I seem to think we billeted in some huts along the road to Thurso.) And for the first time I saw some peat! The drinking water was peat coloured too. If you were fussy about that - you shut your eyes when drinking and the taste was alright.

Now comes my sad story and lucky escape.  On Monday August 3rd we were ordered to move over to Wick. Having prepared "G" for George ready for take off, I was sitting in the plane with my crew, fully expecting to travel the short distance with them. The Pilot, Flight Sgt Randall was hopefully looking to the end of the war.

He said he hoped I would still be one of his ground crew all the way!  But then a Sgt arrived and told me I had to go by road. I was never told why. On arrival at Wick, I went looking for a place to sleep for the next few days and was startled with a shout "Your kite has crashed". Even then I thought it had perhaps had a mishap on landing. I remember dashing outside and down the side of an airfield, until I came to find the plane with a guard around it by then and one of the crew thrown clear. At least he was lying in front of the aircraft. It was a shock and sight I will never forget.

But for the Grace of God I would have been with those brave airmen. With Flt Sgt Randall were two of his New Zealand friends, Sgt Dunn and Sgt Byers and three Englishmen, Sgts Sparham, Friendship and Stewart. The 3 New Zealanders were buried in Wick cemetery on Friday August 7th and the bodies of the other 3 crew returned to their families on the East Coast.

I remember going to the Pavilion Cinema at Wick and saw a film "Kiss the Girls Goodbye". We returned from Wick on Friday August 11 leaving at 10.15 and making St Eval at 3.30.  But a few weeks later our squadron was on the move again - posted to Stornoway in the Outer Hebrides!