Synopsis of Chapter One ~ Early Training
1927, Jan 1939 - July 1940


My story starts with a visit of Alan Cobham's Flying Circus to Skegness, which gave me my first taste for flying. Playing truant from school, a lucky meeting secured me a free flight in the Youth of Britain passenger plane.

In 1939, whilst working for Lloyds Bank in Cromer, I applied to the RAF Volunteer Reserve for pilot training. I became a sergeant-pilot-under-training - No.754636. Training took place in Norwich in the evenings and on Sundays. My first solo flight took place that summer in a Miles Magister aircraft.

I was mobilised the day before war was declared against Germany on the 2nd September 1939. However, it was an anti-climax, as most of our instructors at Norwich had departed to regular units and there was little for us to do. Much of my time was spent improving my tennis and dabbling in pig farming. Eventually, in November 1939, I was posted to No 5 Initial Training Wing (ITW) at Hastings - living in a requisitioned hotel in Warrior Square, St Leonards. Morale was low, there were few instructors and we made slow progress towards becoming pilots. However, by chance on a double date, I met Deirdre Mumford (who was to become my wife). It was love at second sight on a golfing weekend in Bexhill and love blossomed slowly over the coming months due to curfews.

After Hitler had invaded France, those of us in No 5 ITW started to be dispersed to flying schools. In May 1940, I was dispatched to Elementary Flying School at Prestwick to train on Tiger Moths. At the end of the six-weeks, only three-quarters of the course passed and the rest were transferred to non-pilot duties. Fortunately I got through, in spite of being ill for part of the time. Next it was to Anstey for two weeks for advanced aerobatics and instrument flying instruction. During this time I continued writing regularly to Deirdre, who was now settled in Barclays Bank in Lewes.

Alan Cobham
Beryl Fox
Scratch Catchpole
Frank Leveridge
Claude Berry Savory
Delphine Mumford
Deirdre Mumford
Bill Holland
Fredith Mumford
St Leonards
Air Circus
Youth of Britain
Lloyds Bank, Cromer
RAF Volunteer Reserve
Miles Magister
Tiger Moth
No 5 Initial Training Wing, Hastings
Elementary Flying School, Prestwick
Barclays Bank, Lewes
Austin 7 Cromer 1939
Miles Magister, RAF VR Unit at Norwich Aug.1939
Beryl Fox and me October 1939
Del, Scratch, Deirdre and me, No5 ITW St Leonards, March 1940
Scratch, Deirdre and me, Bexhill, April 1940
Me, Bill Holland & girlfriend, Prestwick EFTS, June 1940
Open-cockpit flying clothing, Prestwick EFTS, June 1940



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