Mid Air Survival by Harry Parkins

When flying on operations it was said that the last plane back to base set up the drinks in the mess for the first crew back.

Because so many airbases were within a few miles of each other it was a written rule that when flying over another base where other aircraft were flying, to land one had to join the circuit before flying off and not to go straight across (similar to the roundabout system on a road today). I did read after the war that this was how roundabouts were invented.

On our way back from our 31st raid to Stuttgart on 28 July 1944, were on our circuit preparing to land when another Lancaster ignored the rule and shot straight across and under our Lancaster, crashing into us and taking off the tail wheel and H2S cupola. I shouted, “that was hell of a slipstream” and made our crew laugh, which momentarily took away our fear. The other plane dived and crashed with no survivors. Thankfully we were able to land with sparks flashing all down the runway. Joe Pollard, our rear gunner, was shouting all the way out of fear of the sparks, it was a very nasty and frightening experience.

After debriefing we were all given seven days survivors’ leave. No counselling in those days and back again on ops when we returned.

Note: Raid took place on Stuttgart from RAF East Kirkby in Lincolnshire.

Note: Also published on the BBC WWII People's War website as 'Mid Air Survival' 29 January 2006.

Lincolnshire ~ Harry Parkins ~ 630 Squadron ~ East Kirkby
(c) Keith Parkins 2006 -- January 2006 rev 0