RAF Oakington, in 1954
Written by John Harley
As a National Service SAC engine mechanic, I well remember being detached to RAF Valley early in 1954, when we carried out the acceptance checks on the three new Vampire T 11 trainers, destined to replace the Meteor 4’s and 7’s at Number 206 AFS at RAF Oakington.
About this time, we had a new Deputy Chief Instructor joining us from Tarrant Rushton. His name was Sqd. Ldr. Peter Tunstall. He became O.C. No 2 Sqdn when Oakington was reformed as Number 5 Flying Training School. Pete had been training pilots on Meteors and had to complete a conversion course for the new T 11’s. I got to know Pete during this time as I was his ground crew for quite a while and we became friendly.
After Pete had completed his conversion and built up a few hours, he took me up for flight during which he let me fly the aircraft and he carried out a ’High Speed Run’, demonstratng the effects of compressibility and the onset of ’cobble stones’ - diving inverted we managed to record 0.89 on the Mach meter. Quite a flight!
I was demobbed a year later, but never forgot Pete and our time together. It was not until June 2009 that I made contact again with Pete - through the Colditz Society. Pete was captured in 1940 after a raid on Leipzig in his Hampden. He was a POW for 5 years ending up in Colditz with Douglas Bader. Pete is still alive at 93 and living in South Africa with his wife Ann. We are in regular contact and keep in touch by letter, e-mail and Skype calls. He is a great friend and still full of life.
RAF Oakington, in 1942
Written by Emden operation
Dad wrote a book ’Of Stirlings and Stalags:an air-gunner’s tale’ available from Lulu Publishing as a paperback. It’s also available as an ebook from Amazon. Many of his friends from Oakington and then Stalag Luft III are mentioned. He was shot down on 7 June 1942 on a operation to Emden...they were taken down by a Me110 night-fighter piloted by Oblt. Ludwig Becker.