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Lincolnshire Life November 1967 (Vol. 7, No. 9)

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  • 09-February-2011 04:17:41

    ? They watched the birdie on 21st March, 1935, when 503 Squadron was rehearsing at Mildenhall for the King George V Review of the R.A.F. Clockwise they are Pilot Officer M. A. Smith, J. H. Smith, P. Ruston, Flying Officer R. Bradford and Flight Lieutenant I. A. Critchley. 1930, to take a post in Malaya and in May, 1931, Wg./Cdr. H. I. Hanmer, D.F.c., took command. A new reservist, Jack Peel, well liked by everyone, was tragically killed, the first fatal crash recorded for the squadron. By April, 1932, there were only six reservists flying and the regulars now included H. L. Piper and Henry E. Power, the last-named arriving. in March, 1932, as Flying Officer and remaining until, as Squadron Leader, he was adjutant and acting C.O. Shot down on 1st September, 1918, when an observer flying over Holland, he had taken a pilot's course and came to 503 from No. 2 F.T.S., Digby, where he had survived a crash which left him with severe face burns. He was relieved as acting C.O. by Wg. /Cdr. A. P. V. Daly, A.F.C., in August, 1933, and having served in 60 Squadron, R.F.C., on the dangerous Morane "Bullet," the atmosphere, thanks to Daly and Power, was closely akin to that of the Royal Flying Corps and Waddington gained a reputation envied by many regular units. A notable newcomer in October, 1933, was J. H. Smith, followed by Arthur Young, Michael Smith, Paul Ruston and C. W. Rees, with S./Ldr. J. L. M. de C. Hughes-Chamberlain, R.A.F., running "A" Flight. The squadron was now part of Western Area and was reequipped with the Handley Page "Hinaidi" night bomber, replica of the Hyderabad but for metal airframe and two Bristol "Jupiter" radial engines. It had endurance of 6? hours, cruised at around 86 m.p.h., but still took 40 minutes to get to 10,000 feet-one of these aircraft had the amusing serial K 1066. P/O Ruston managed to get a Hinaidi to 18,500 feet and it is interesting to learn that practice bombing at this time was with 821b. bombs, using the white chalk centre of the airfield circle as the target ! On Thursday, 24th May, 1934, Waddington was open to the public for Empire Air Day and formations of both the Hinaidis and training Avros thrilled the crowds. In July the squadron flew down to Manston, Kent for annual camp, sharing the field with Nos. 500, 501 and 502 Sqdns., "bombing" places like Dagenham for exercises, using sachalite bulb flashes which could be checked by the umpires. FLYING BANANAS In the autumn all ab initio training aircraft, on Air Ministry orders, were painted yellow, the Avros immediately nicknamed "The Flying Banana." Then, in mid-1935, the present hangars at Waddington were built, as 503 flew three Hinaidis to Mildenhall for the first Royal Review of the R.A.F. by King George V -at this event it is said the King so disliked turn-ups on uniforms that they have never been worn since. Four new reservists joined this year-Messrs. J. S. Bell, J. S. F. Hood, R. H. Smith and M. P. Forte. S. /Ldr. A. F. James took command and on 1st May, 1936, the squadron became part of the Auxiliary Air Force as a squadron in No. 6 (Auxiliary) Group of Bomber Command. Following the arrival of at least one Westland Wapiti trainer, the squadron re-equipped with the Westland Wallace, the Mk. 1 with open cockpit and the Mk. 2 with enclosed cockpit. Harold Willers of Rufford Green, Lincoln, joined as an airman armourer in 1934 and by 1936, promoted Corporal, took an air-gunner course on the squadron's sleek Hawker Hart day bombers, which later changed to the Hawker Hind. P/O G. Hellyer volunteered in November, 1936, and when S. /Ldr. James departed, Henry Power again had to act as C.O., adjutant and flying instructor for a time, although Waddington now became a fully-fledged R.A.F. Station with Wg./Cdr. P. H. Cummings, D.F.C., in command, and as part of No. 3 Bomber Group. Sad ? The Avro 504 N (Armstrong Siddeley Lynx). to report the year 1937 brought two disastrous losses, first on 6th February when P/O Forte (with LAC East) lost their lives when Hart K 3025 crashed during an exercise near the airfield. Then on Saturday, 30th May -Empire Air Day-S. /Ldr. Henry Power, flying a Hawker Fury single-engined fighter in a magnificent acrobatic display, crashed and was killed at Waddington -a severe loss to the squadron and to the Royal Air Force. By January, 1938, with the expansion of the R.A.F. which was at last taking place, 503 was left with only one regular officer (F./Lt. R. G. Harman) and six reservist pilots. Waddington was now part of No. 5 Bomber Group and three regular squadrons-Nos. 44, 50 and 110 (all makers of history in World War II) were forming on the airfield. The 1938 summer camp was held at Hawkinge, near Folkestone, under S./Ldr. Harman, and shortly after this, No. 503 (County of Lincoln) Squadron was disbanded and No. 616 (South Yorkshire) Auxiliary Squadron was formed at Doncaster with S./Ldr. The Earl of

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Reference Name LL/07/09

The monthly Lincolnshire Life magazine was founded in April, 1961 with the intention of championing the cause of Lincolnshire by recording its history, folklore, culture, personalities, dialect, art, etc.

The magazine has 'thumbnail' sketches of the history of all the county's towns and many of its 700-plus villages, histories of its major houses and castles and profiles of many of its smaller houses, in private occupation. There are accounts of major and minor incidents in the county's history, augmented through the magazine's correspondence columns and details of the lives of many of the county's personalities both past and present.

By recording aspects of the county's life which were happening at the time but which no longer exist, the magazine now has the only written account of some of these customs or events.

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