The Navigator - Ken Dodwell remembers his life as a RAF navigator from 1940 to 1946

4 approached our house you crossed your fingers that the engine would not stop just before that position. You felt safe when it was right above you with the engine still running. In fact this particular V1 flew right above us 13 Lapstone Gardens and within seconds the engine stopped. They travelled at some 400 miles per hour and so it had this momentum and travelled about 1 mile hitting the house of a family I knew –they were members of the same tennis club. All in the house were killed. Navigator Training After an apprehensive wait I was finally called back in October 1940 to attend Initial Training Wing or I.T.W. This was a six week course of general R.A.F training. After I.T.W I was posted to 3IANS an air navigation school at Port Albert, near Goderich Ontario Canada on the shore of Lake Huron. This trans-atlantic posting was to avoid interruption from German bombing in the United Kingdom. I must mention an impression that has always been with me.An impression which has remained with me since that day in early January 1941 when we left the port of Greenock on the western Scottish coast near Glasgow. We proceeded down the Clyde on our vessel the Duchess of York passing Dunoon and Rothesay on your starboard side and then around the island of Arran and the Kintyre peninsula. What struck me was that it was a clear, sunny winters afternoon with the sun shining on the heather that covered the mountainous Scottish landscape as we passed. The colours were amazing. Especially to a youngish twenty year old whose world travelling amounted to a few journeys south of ‘The Wash Kings Lynn and once to Calais France from Folkestone for the day. That was how it was in those days and there was certainly no money for foreign holidays or ‘Gap Years!’ Yes what colours they were. Peach and coral mixed with blue and yellow. I imagined how very sad it would have been for earlier Scots emigrating to the new world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. How sad it would have been to see this last glimpse of their beautiful homeland. From Kintyre our ship took us to a position north of the Northern Irish coast and then therefrom into the silence of the Atlantic. We hoped that it would remain silent though we knew it could easily be broken by the ‘big bang of an enemy torpedo fired from an enemy ‘U-Boat.’ We did not need any reminding my navigation course were sleeping on hammocks slung below the waterline. I experienced my first adventure whilst crossing the Atlantic in the first week of January 1941. There were gale force winds as our convoy made the crossing with one battleship in particular the Repulse some 400 yards
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