When Merryfield closed in 1954 I was posted back to Germany to take over as Second in Command at R.A.F. Wahn, just across the Rhein from the town of Cologne that I had bombed during the first 1,000 bomber raid back in 1942. The war had been over nearly nine years, but much of the city was still in ruins, with people living in bombed out shells. There was even a remote area on the airfield where some civilians were still living beneath the ground utilizing combat trenches, where they had taken refuge away from the devastating bombing all those years before.
While there I also met up with Billy Gill, who was a pupil of mine at EFTS before the war and was now serving as a Wing Commander. He later retired as Air Vice Marshal. The photo below shows the two of us at a dinner party held the Station Commander Group Captain John Lapsley's house. He became an Air Marshal and was appointed as the head of the British Defence Staff in Washington and Knighted by the Queen. My first wife, Doris, is sat opposite me.
It was an interesting time for me and I met many dignitaries as second in command.
|Meeting with the Belgian Foreign Minister.
Col. de Weaver is on the left. He was with me
in StalagLuft III as a fellow F/Lt during the war.
|Meeting with Air Marshal the Earl of Bandon, Commander in Chief 2nd Tactical Air Force.|
After two years at Wahn (now the site of Cologne/Bonn Airport) I returned to England to finish my career as C.O. Swanton Morley.
Our whole family went to Germany with my father. I attended Windsor School in the Ruhr at Bad Hamm, one of three BFES boarding schools located throughout the BAOR. I have many pleasant memories of that time. The school was converted from a German army barracks complex and I remember that one of the buildings still had a mural of the German Eagle painted on the outside. One of the nice things about the school was that it was co-educational although, of course, the living quarters were segregated! The student body was divided into five groups named after English royal residences and four of these were housed, one per floor including my House (Hillsborough), in two of the main buildings (one for boys and one for girls). The fifth one (Balmoral) was located on the middle two floors of a similar building, the boys and girls being separated by a central wall. The top floor was the infirmary and the bottom floor was the staff quarters and admin offices. For reasons best left to the imagination, the Infirmary was also known as "the rabbit warren", and many a young lad was apprehended trying to use it as a passageway into the forbidden zone. This was my last school year before going to work and, as one of the older boys, I was made a house prefect and had to police the conduct of the younger boys on my floor. The school was gated with a guard at the entrance and students were not allowed off the grounds except with parents on the monthly visiting days, or during organised school outings - a bit like prison in a way! Occasionally one of the younger boys would attempt to get home (POW escape books were a great favourite at the time). One way I was able to leave the school grounds as a senior boy was to "train" with a group of friends for cross country running, and another was to go on manoeuvres as a member of the Combined Cadet Force. One of the more interesting school outings was to what was left of the three dams featured in "The Dam Busters" story. Even in 1956, the valley below the Mohne Dam was still flooded. Although it was somewhat restrictive, I have to admit that I enjoyed my stay there and it was also here that I eventually turned toward my career in engineering by studying Metalwork and Technical Drawing, even though these unfortunately had to be taken at the expense of the subjects of English Literature and History.
During vacation time the family travelled along the Rhine on
sightseeing trips and also spent a couple of weeks in Holland. I remember
that we had a Mercedes and my father made the mistake of parking outside a
post office in Holland and asking for directions in German. The shopkeeper
thought we were German gave us all the cold shoulder and no help at all!
After that we parked the car well out of sight and made sure we spoke in
English at the next place!