The Wartime Memories Project - Air Cadets



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My Dad Vernon Simms in his volunteer reserve uniform.

He was an acting pilot officer, then flight ltnt., 633 ATC possibly at Mitcham, Surrey. He was a teacher for central foundation school, evacuated with school to fakenham,norfolk, recalled and appointed in 1940. After the war he went on to teach at bethnal green,strand school,parmiters,beaumont and london school of economice,also writing history text books for schools

This is a picture of 633 squadron air training corp, possibly at mitcham,surrey

My late father is in the front row, 4th from left. His name was Vernon Harcourt Simms, lived in Mitcham and was a teacher at central foundation school, till 1939 when he was called into service. He also taught at Bethnal Green School, parmiters, haberdashers and beaumont school. He played and ran extensive football clubs for them all and seems to of done the same here. I do not know the identity of the man in uniform next to him so anyone who does please let me know.

As air cadets in 1944/45 we were assigned as messengers to RAF stations Manston & Hawkinge Kent, our job was to take messages from the flight deck to flying control or the officers mess,m ost days the airfield was strafed by me 109s operating from Abbeville in France about ten minutes flying time to Manston.

As a reward and to encourage us to join the R.A.F.V.R. we were give our first flight over the english channel in a de Havilland rapide, at 5 am we were on the flight: deck boots shined, standing at ease, coming to attention when our hero, a Pilot Officer turned up, the worst from wear from the night before. It was a beautiful morning with the sun just coming up, the birds were singing and there was our hero aged about 19 a Pilot Officer, not shaven, wearing pyjamas, flying boots, and leather jacket with his helmet and r.t. cable swinging from the helmet, very bad tempered he told two of us to get in. We took off over the channel when the r.t. told us to return at once to Manston as the me 109's had taken off from Abbeville, we landed and dove for the slit trenches which had water in them when the me 109's shot up the airfield destroying our beautiful de Havilland Rapide which was full of machine gun bullet holes when we surfaced wet from the trenches, but alive.

Hugh Woods



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