Prestwick 1940

“I opened the door and found myself in the well-lit main room where three other U/T pilots were lounging in wicker chairs. They turned out to be my close friends from Cambridge, Jimmy Ward and Bernard Wills, and a stranger, Dave Smith, a South African. I took off my wet coat and flopped into a chair, revelling in the warmth emanating from the cylindrical stove in the centre of the room. I had been in one other such Nissen flight hut before and this was much the same: curved, corrugated metal roof, metal window frames, the ubiquitous stove, desk, tables, umpteen chairs, and the whole room littered with the aircrew’s flying gear, parachutes and other accessories. I wrinkled my nose; a faint musty smell pervaded the place.

   I had hardly settled when a door opened at the rear of the room and Sgt Allan emerged in standard blue battledress. I had met him briefly on arrival the day before. Stocky, fair haired, rather fine features; about twenty-five years of age, I guessed. Allan called, ‘Wild—I’ll see you first’. He turned, retreated, and I followed. This room was small with a desk and a few chairs. As soon as we were seated, Allan smiled and said, ‘Welcome to “A” Flight.’ He paused to consult some papers. ‘Now then, let me see. You spent a month at RAF Finningley, as an Air Cadet plonk doing various chores, and then you were posted to Cambridge ITW, where you were genned up on armaments, navigation, etc., before arriving here yesterday. Before I go on, have you managed to get home?’ He glanced at the file. ‘You live at Bolton?’

   ‘No, Sergeant. Actually I’ve not been home since joining.’

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Adamton House, Dad’s billet – photographed in 2015 on my visit. This part could still have been the same, and shows why he remembered it as such a great place to be!

‘Bad show. Hopefully you’ll be able to visit before too long. And your billet, Adamton House? Your first kip there last night. OK?’

 

   ‘Yes, great. I slept like a log. And the food was first-rate.’

   He grinned. ‘You’re lucky. Better than our mess.’”

My own experience of Adamton house was completely different from my father’s. Terrible place, terribly run. ‘Fawlty Towers’ was on everyone’s lips. I shiver now at the memory of that bare room at the top of the building with a rusty old fire escape outside my window. Hope it is looking better now.

photo

I hope Dad’s view in October 1940 was better than mine in 2015

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My room was clean but depressing, and frighteningly high up in the building!

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1 Comment

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One response to “Prestwick 1940

  1. How amazing to be able to spend a night, however bad, in the same place as your father all that time ago!

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