Pembs. Aviation Group

Thursday 18th May 2006 10:00 pm

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The May meeting saw the welcome second talk by member Ken Bernau who led the group through the years 1939 to 1946 which comprised his first period of RAF service.

Leaving school in July 1939 with the firm intention of a career farming, he had a grandstand view of the Battle of Britain from the farm near Ashford, Kent, even producing a box of bits picked up off the fields below the battle. Call up came in October 1941 to Lord's cricket ground, accommodation being in large requisitioned properties on the locality. Such was the state of the country, the intake was marched to London Zoo for meals. Selected for aircrew, an intensive course was followed by grading on Tiger Moths prior to a very rough 11-day crossing to Halifax and an onward journey to Arizona for a 200-hour flying course which strangely was rather different from a similar course being conducted in Canada.

Returning home on the Queen Mary, Ken converted to twin-engined night fighters, flying Blenhiems and Beaufighters, before posting to West Malling where his squadron commander was John (Cats Eyes) Cunningham. November 1943 came with a ferry job to Malta by way of Gibraltar and North Africa. A year later, having returned by convoy, he converted to Airspeed Oxfords, then being posted to West Malling on Mosquitoes working up for Tiger Force in the Far East.

A detachment to the High Speed Flight at Manston provided an interesting diversion. An attempt was being made on the world speed record using a Gloster Meteor which in the event achieved 606 mph. There followed a six-month tour in the communication squadron at Old Sarum until demob arrived - all in all, a busy few years.

There will be a special Open Meeting on Wednesday, May 24, at 7.30 pm in Camrose Community Centre, when the speaker will be Sqdn. Ldr. Peter Hackett MBE, of the Empire Test Pilots School, who is currently test flying the Eurofighter Typhoon. All are welcome at what promises to be a memorable evening.

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