Letter Received From -Arthur Jackson.
In reply to your enquiry about flying
days at Boyndie Drome, or Banff as we called it then. I am pleased to give
you some info, but I am sure you could get more from RAF Coastal Command
Records or from books such as "Mosquito at War" or "Strike Wings" by R.
Conyers Nesbit. I was only at Banff for 4 months from August 1944 to
December 1944 as I was coming to the end of my tour of operations, most of
which I did from Portreath in Cornwall, on the French facing coast. The
Strike Wing at Banff consisted of about four or five Squadrons, including
a Norwegian Squadron which did most of the recognisance for us and brought
back the necessary information for our strikes. Its a long time ago now
and I have forgotten a lot in the intervening years but very briefly we
flew from Banff which was an excellent airfield with one of the longest
runways in the RAF at that time (2000 yards long I think).
We were armed with a variety of weapons,
303 machine guns, 20mm cannon, and 8 sixty-pound rockets mounted on the
wings. We flew out over the North Sea at about 20 - 30 strong, in loose
formation low over the sea (right over the waves) to avoid enemy radar.
Our sphere of operations was between
Alesund in the North and Bergen in the South. Attacking all shipping used
by the Germans, in the fjords, usually taking iron-ore to Germany. The
fjords were high sided and if you were hit by enemy fire it was usually
impossible to fly out.
Once in sight of the coast we would climb
to about 3000 feet ready to attack when we sighted our target. To do this
we would attack in waves from about 2000 feet, releasing our rockets at
about 600 yards and then pull out of our dives just in time to miss the
funnels of the ships! If you were lucky and escaped with your life and
unhurt as I did then it was a most exciting experience. But of course we
lost many of our friends and that was very sad. We even lost a lot in
those days in flying accidents around the aerodrome and you will find
about 18 of these aircrews buried in Banff Cemetery in the RAF Section. I
believe someone is doing research up there and a memorial is planned for
erection on the roadside near to Boyndie. I hope it materialises and I may
even travel up that way to see it when its finished. Well Colin I
can understand a young persons interest and 1 wish you luck, but for me
(now 66) it was a long time ago and just like a dream.
Arthur Jackson (pilot 235 Sqdn).