202 Squadron Association

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A case of mistaken identity



In the early sixties, it was not uncommon for Coastal Command Shackleton aircraft to be u/s abroad (Norway, Iceland, Bermuda, Canada, etc.) - quite often requiring a replacement engine, prop or the like.

It might be several days before Transport Command could provide an aircraft and crew to ferry out the replacement item. However, Coastal Command was very fortunate in that it had it's own private fleet of transport aircraft - the Met Hastings of No. 202 Squadron. It was therefore quite common for a crew to be called at short notice to ferry some spares to an ailing Shackleton. One such trip was tasked to take a replacement engine to Greenwood Nova Scotia:-Aldergrove to Ballykelly; collect engine. Ballykelly to Keflavik; night stop. Keflavik to Argentia; refuel. Argentia to Greenwood; night stop, while the engine was replaced and the u/s one loaded. Greenwood to Argentia; night stop. Argentia to Ballykelly; unload engine. Ballykelly to Aldergrove.

The full crew went on these trips - pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, navigator, two signalers, and two met-men who acted as quartermasters/loadmasters! On this particular trip, apart from the two sergeant Met. men, the entire crew was either commissioned or Master Aircrew. Apart from the Met. men, they would therefore all be able to stay in the Bachelor Officers Quarters (BOQ) at Argentia. To keep the crew together, it was decided, during the Greenwood Argentia leg, to 'promote' the two met men to Master Air Met Observers! They changed into civvies before landing, signed in to the BOQ as MAMOs, and all went well, including a very pleasant social evening there.

About ten days later, a Royal Air Force police corporal appeared at the Squadron. He was carrying the Form 1250 of one of the met men (who was not even aware that it was no longer in his possession). The 1250 had been found in the BOQ at Argentia; the owner had been tracked down via the booking in book; and the ID Card had been returned by the American Military Police! The embarrassed owner said he must have dropped it when he was helping the officers with their baggage, and fortunately no one thought to query his name being in the book at reception!