Stan Yule DFC

26 March 1911 - 6 April 2006 aged 95 Years

 

Stan, who's memoirs appear here was also a regular contributor to this website. His invaluable assistance as both a friend and advisor will be sorely missed

 

 

Stan Yule DFC was a navigator with 12 Squadron and 156 Squadron (PFF).

Stan Yule DFC

Stan Yule DFC

in 2002 Aged 92

This is his Story

 

I was in a reserved occupation but was not at all happy about my contribution to the war effort. The only escape was to volunteer for Aircrew. In mid 1941 I was accepted for training as Navigator and sworn in as 1671140 AC2 Yule, then sent home on deferred call up. In April 1942 I received orders to report to Lords Cricket Ground. (Forgive me if a make a slight digression here. In 1924 I had the privilege of dancing an old English Sword Dance on the hallowed turf at Wembley. The 'sporting double' was complete when I arrived at Lords and the hallowed Long Room.)

My stay in London covered the preliminaries. My first posting was to Initial Training Wing at Torquay. We were billeted at 'Hotel Regina'. ( incidentally I spent a few days at Torquay earlier this year and called in to Hotel Regina to be informed that I was one of many renewing acquaintance)

I remember our first parade . The CO marched us off at 140 steps to the minute, and I think it staggered most of us. The course covered all aspects of navigation with a 'simple understanding' of other peoples jobs. I managed to make the grade and became LAC Yule. Unfortunately. there was a hold up for quite a long period and we were shunted from place to place. The outcome of this was that I had the fittest period of my life as we were passed from one PTI to another. It wasn't until early in 1943 that we were posted to Heaton Park, Manchester where we received Flying Kit and were sent to Greenock. We boarded the SS Andes and were billeted in the bowels of the ship, hammocks slung from pipes. I'll say no more than it was a very thankful party that disembarked at Halifax, Canada.

We arrived at Monckton, which was a staging post. Another long wait spent mostly trying to dodge fatigues. I remember one morning, one of the cadets, (yes we had our distinctive white flash in our headgear) marching us out of the camp and marching us back later in the day. Finally our posting came through and after a long train journey we arrived at Rivers, Manitoba. No1 RCAF Navigation School , where we would spend five months intensive training . The Station itself was, as it had to be, self sufficient. Unfortunately I have lost my log book so I have no record of the flights I did there. We flew in Ansons, and the immediate picture which comes to mind is the physical effort of winding up the Landing Gear. I believe it took 35 turns to bring it up, needless to say the lowering was relatively easy. Quite obviously night flying played quite a large part in our training and the use of the sextant was essential. No easy feat, I can assure you. Have you ever tried to hold a spirit level keeping the bubble steady in the middle. That is easy compared to keeping the bubble central in a sextant.

We were given 36 hour passes and most of the chaps went into Winnipeg, 150 miles away. The first weekend I went by bus into Brandon a town about 25 miles away. I was in a Services Canteen when a gentleman came up for a chat. He asked me where I hailed from. I said West Hartlepool. He told me that there were two families from West. He gave me their names and addresses. I knew people having both names, and on return to camp I wrote to a Mr & MrsTrowsdale, mentioning the name of a Sunday School Teacher. I received an invitation to spend my next leave with them. When I arrived I felt at home immediately.

I don’t know whether you are watchers of Coronation St but at the bottom of the stairs there is a picture of a Boy Scout holding a map, behind him is the figure of Jesus. The title of the picture is The Pathfinder (an omen of things to come?) I was a long standing member of the Boy Scout movement and wore a bracelet with the Scout Badge attached. I was treated to real Sunday Dinner Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding. After tea Mrs Trowsdale said she was a member of the Church Choir and was going to Evensong. I said I would like to accompany her. After the Service I was introduced to many people . The church had no Vicar and the person responsible for keeping things alive was also the Scoutmaster The Scouts were having a social the next night to which I was invited. Mr and Mrs Trowsdale invited me to spend all my leaves at their home . It was the beginning of many wonderful friendships which have lasted all these years. The circle has grown smaller but we are still in touch. Basically, the course rolled on and I was thrilled when I was finally awarded my half wing. The big surprise was when I was given a white arm band to indicate I had been awarded a commission.

There was one little hiccup. During my compulsory check up, the MO noticed I had had an operation on my right leg. (The removal of varicose veins some 8 or 9 years earlier.) He said he would not pass me fit unless I agreed to let him finish the job. I remember him telling me I had to walk into the operating theatre and walk out. In other words he was only giving me a local anaesthetic. Things went well but unfortunately I missed the flight photograph and when I show it the comment is where are you?

A last goodbye to my friends at Brandon. Then…. luxury of luxuries,…. a First Class journey back to Monckton. A few days to purchase uniform and gifts, and then to Halifax. Here what a surprise to find the Queen Mary waiting for us. (It had brought Winston Churchill over to meet President Roosevelt.) The ship was absolutely crowded. There were only two meals a day, in many sittings.

Docking at Clydeside, train to Harrogate and two days later home.

Mary and I had hoped to get married on my return but there was so much uncertainty that we could not make arrangements. My first posting was to Halfpenny Green, a group of Navigators conditioning ourselves to the wartime restrictions. It was here that I met Derrick Laycock. The short course over, we were posted to Finningley where we met up with members of our crew. Leave would be one day per week on a Wednesday. Mary and I decided on Wednesday 17 Nov. On Tuesday, the lads had a whip round and gave me money for a wedding gift. I arrived home about 10.30 on Tuesday evening and Mary greeted me with the words "I am coming back with you, no arguments "


I was amazed what a beautiful wedding we had. Mary in a beautiful white wedding dress. (She always talked of the lovely smile she got from the priest who conducted the service when he met her at the door.) Her mother managed a lovely wedding cake and the food at the reception was a wonder. All this at only a fortnights notice, but obviously somebody had drawn up a wonderful 'flight plan'. That evening we arrived at Doncaster and in spite of the black out found a cosy hotel. Unfortunately an early call next morning for me to catch a bus to Finningley. Back to the hotel for dinner early call. Not the most impressive honeymoon but the start of 56+ years of married bliss.

When we were all crewed up' we were posted to a satellite station at Worksop. This was an Operational Training Unit where we flew Wellingtons, and things did not always go too well. There was too much engine trouble. On one occasion F/O A C Hicks (our pilot), an instructor, and I had just taken off when one engine failed. Unfortunately this controlled the landing gear and after a circuit we came in to land on our belly. I had braced myself and there was a great shower of sparks as we came to a stop. I was out of the escape hatch and slid to the ground. We were fortunate, but I remember having to collect the personal belongings of one who was not so lucky. Having finished our stint at Worksop we were posted to Hemswell HCU(heavy conversion unit). While we were there I had bronchitis and an X-Ray showed a patch on the lung so I was grounded. My crew moved on to Wickenby with another Navigator. Once I was given a full medical and declared fit, I returned to Hemswell and joined up with F/O Keeler and crew and we were posted to 12 Squadron Wickenby.

I remember our first op was to Falaise . We were warned that as our own troops were in close proximity to the target, bombs were not to be dropped unless 100% certain. Shortly after take off we lost our Gee signal. When we arrived in the target area, Stevie the Bomb Aimer was not happy and decided he would not drop the bombs. Arriving back at Wickenby, Freddie ran out of runway and we finished up in a field. Not a very auspicious start to our tour, but things did improve . To a Navigator each sortie was like the last one . You went to briefing, did your flight plan ,climbed into the plane and then sat behind the curtains seeing the same things every time. Eyes glued to the Gee box or H2S, a reading noted in the log working out Courses and ETAs . I now understand why Navigators never write books about their experiences., because every trip was the same pattern.

We did 11 ops from Wickenby, then we were posted to Dunholme Lodge. I don't know how many ops we did, but out of the blue we learned that we had been posted to N0 8 Group Pathfinder Force.

A short training spell at Upton and then posted to 156 Squadron, Upwood. We were classed as Blind Markers. This meant a slight change in jobs. Stevie took over as Navigator 2, his main purpose being responsible for the dropping of markers by instruments if visibility was poor. The main instrument for this purpose was the H2S, but there was one drawback to its use. The H2S had to send out a signal and it returned a picture of the surrounding area. The fact that we were transmitting a signal meant that the enemy could pick up the signal and home in on us! Therefore, the set was not switched on until a short while before reaching the target. Stevie also took readings on the Gee set and passed the information onto me. I very rarely looked out into the night sky. There was one exception when our target was Stettin I just had to look out as we passed Sweden with full street lighting everywhere. We operated up to VE Day.

To me one memorable trip was MANNA dropping food over Holland.

Having completed 47 Sorties I was looking forward to a posting at some out of the way station and allowed to rusticate until demob. Imagine our consternation when we were told we were being posted to the Middle East. What followed was the stuff of which pantomimes are made but I can assure you it was no laughing matter to me. We were sent to Melton Mowbray to pick up a Lancaster. When we arrived we were told there was no plane available and were sent home on indefinite leave. The indefinite meant we could make no plans. In the middle of this leave there was a knock on the door one morning. I opened the door and our Vicar was standing there. "Let me be the first to congratulate you" "Why" "You have been awarded the DFC" He had seen it in the 'Yorkshire Post', not a local paper. In fact none of the local papers carried the news at all. After 10 weeks I was recalled to Melton Mowbray, and arrived to learn that Freddy had been given B class release to return to the Metropolitan Police, and Stevie, to return to St Andrews University. I was shattered of the crew there was only Joe Moisey and myself left. The new pilot was a F/Sgt Livingstone, one of the old school who knew all the ropes. We arrived at Cairo West and after an inspection were told one of the engines was u/s, and owing to the activity of transporting essentials to the far East we were well down the list for attention. Cairo West was a Staging Post with no provision for long term visitors. I did venture into Cairo one day but was not the least happy and made a very hasty return. Imagine my relief when the Captain came and told me we were returning home in a Wellington. We did not receive a welcome home, but were promised a 'speedy return' to Cairo West. However the powers that be decided to let us stay in England and I was posted to Pershore. Whilst there, I received news that our first child had been born and I was granted some leave. Demob followed in April making my service 4 years.

I went to do a job, it is up to others to judge the outcome!

As you will have gathered our coming together as a crew was a bit iffy, and the break up was a disaster. One thing I regret was the fact that we never had a crew photograph and in the Squadron photograph we were scattered. It was in the early fifties that I received a letter care of the Mayor of West Hartlepool. Fortunately at the time my brother was a councillor and the letter was forwarded to me. It was from Stevie. As a result we made contact and shortly afterwards I received a letter telling me that Stevie and his fiancée were visiting the area. We met and communications were restored. In October 1955 my wife asked me if there had been any news of the Princess Margaret,Group Captain Townsend romance. I picked up the News Chronicle and a headline caught my eye. 'Died on way to school' ……. 'Senior boys of the Royal High School, Edinburgh, were dismissed for the day yesterday after the assistant mathematics teacher, Mr Raymond Inches Stevens (32) collapsed and died in the playground on his way to school. Mr Stevens, who was awarded the DFC while serving in the RAF Pathfinder Force, was the school Rugby coach and an all round sportsman. He was educated at the Morgan Academy Dundee, where he taught until two years ago'…



As a matter of interest, for some reason my log and chart for the raid on Bonn 21st Dec 1944 was returned to me marked

'a good effort'

Dedicated to the Memory of Mary who 'Waited and Wondered'

and to Raymond Inches Stevens DFC

 

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