I Never Sleep'
edited: Wednesday, February 07, 2007
By Beryl McMullen
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Wednesday, February 07, 2007
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A TRUE Account
No 605 Hurricane Squadron
‘I Never Sleep’
County of Warwick Squadron
Squadron leader W. Churchill
No 605 Squadron operated from Drem Satellite Station
Then they moved to Croydon on the 7th of September 1940.
On Friday, September 1 1939, German troops made their way across the border into Poland! September 3 1939, Britain declared war on Germany.
My father, Arthur Darlaston born in Birmingham England in 1902, enlisted in the R.A.F in 1931, and served his country for 15 years. He saw active service with fighter squadrons during the Battle of Britain.
This is one account during that time:
Although London was the main target on the night of the 15th and 16th, it was not the only one. Twenty Heinkelsof Bomber Gruppe 100 attacked Birmingham, eight Dorniers of Bomber Gruppe 808 raid Bristol, elsewhere bombs fell on Scotland, Portsmouth, Southampton and many coastal towns .
Several accounts imply that the daylight part of the Battle of Britain, ended on the 31st of October, but in fact the fighting continues with diminishing intensity well into November. . . .
Shortly after daybreak on the morning of November 15th the Hurricanes of the No. 253 and 605 Squadrons took off to mount a standing patrol in the Maidstone area: soon afterwards Spitfires of Nos. 41 and 603 Squadrons left the ground for similar patrols over Rockford. Just before 8 a.m. an enemy force was observed on the radar, leaving the coast of France near Bologne. The strength of the hostile force was “9 plus”. At 9 a.m. ten flying Messersmitts 109 with fighter escorts crossed the coast near Dover. . . The raiders penetrated the Sittingbourne area before they could be intercepted. Fifteen minutes later a similar formation of fighter bombers headed for Canterbury. The eleven Hurricanes of the 605 Bomber Squadron intercepted the Messersmitts near Haversham, and a sharp conflict developed. Then German planes scurried back to the safety of their own aerodromes. The sole loss on either side was Hurricane Commander Arch McKellar. . .
My father subsequently engaged in the vital task of assembling and servicing fighter aircraft on an aircraft carrier H.M.S. Furious in the North Atlantic, so they could fly directly into action in North Africa. He later saw active service in the Sudan and Western Desert. Subsequently on returning to Britain and working unflinchingly in the maintenance of Lancaster Bombers. His work brought glowing tribute from his Squadron Leader and Wing Commander.
In March 1946 a reunion was held at Castle Bromwich Aerodrome and the following was presented:
The 605 (County of Warwick)
President Air Commodore Sir W Lindsay Everad
Saturday 3th March 1946
Toast proposed by the president: And to the throne where deep foundations lie in
veneration and the people’s love
To Fallen Comrades: Your lost friends are not dead, but gone before.
advanced a stage or two upon the road
which you must travel in the steps they trod.
Welcome to Returned Nor strong towers, nor walls of beaten brass,
Prisoners of War nor airless dungeon, nor links of iron
can be retentive to the strength of the spirit
605 Squadron proposed I shall speak something notable, new and
Air Commodore hitherto unsaid by any other mouth
Lord Willoughby de Broke Horace
Reply from Captain Edge Our parting was all sob and sigh our meeting
When my father came home after the reunion he put his head in his hands and wept. He was so overwhelmed by the sight of the returned prisoners taken by the Japanese, he said “had it been him he didn’t think he would have ever survived”
He was discharged 30th of June, 1947. Rank Flight Sergeant. Discharge very good - Trade proficiency superior - Medals African Star and clasp, Air efficiency award.
When I think about my father, Arthur Charles Darlaston, the words of Seneca the Roman philosopher come to mind “Death is the wish of some, the relief of many and the end of all” - and yet - as profound as these words are they are strangely inaccurate, for dad I believe didn’t wish for death; didn’t find relief in it and for certain didn’t end with it!
The accumulation of the services he performed for his country and the many kindnesses to friends ensure the perpetuity.
Like in all of us he had qualities that were in many ways contradictory - He was a proud soldier not afraid to fight for his country and yet, not a man of violence – a gentle man. He had no exceptional virtues, no heroic feats of valour, no monumental accomplishments, but if the decencies in life become its brightest ornament I am proud to be my father’s daughter and will remember him for just these – his decencies