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The Lois Beer Club

Viewing life through the bottom of a Pilsner Glass

Posts Tagged ‘veterans day’

A flyers Remembrance

The Beer Run

On June 13, 1944, (D-Day plus seven) number 412 (Falcon) Squadron, along with the others comprising 126 Wing gathered for a briefing by W/C Keith Hodson at our Tangmere base.

We would get details of our now regular Beach Patrol activities, only this one had a slight variation.

The Wingco singled me out to arrange delivery of a sizable shipment of beer to our new airstrip being completed at Beny-sur- Mer.

The instructions went something like this – “Get a couple other pilots and arrange with the Officers Mess to steam out the jet tanks and load them up with beer. When we get over the beachhead drop out of formation and land on the strip. We’re told the Nazis are fouling the drinking water so it will be appreciated.”

“There’s no trouble finding the strip, the Battleship Rodney is firing salvoes on Caen and it’s immediately below. We’ll be flying over at 13,000 so the beer will be cold enough when you arrive.”

I remember getting Murray Haver from Hamilton and a third pilot (whose name escapes me) to carry out the caper.

In reflection it now seems like an appropriate Air Force gesture for which the erks (infantrymen) would be most appreciative.

By the time I got down to 5,000 the welcoming from the Rodney was hardly inviting but sure enough there was the strip.

Wheels down and in we go, three Spits with 90 gallon jet tanks fully loaded with cool beer.

As I rolled to the end of the mesh runway it was hard to figure . . . there was absolutely no one in sight. What do we do now, I wondered, we can’t just sit here and wait for someone to show up. What’s with the communications?

Finally I saw someone peering out at us from behind a tree and I waved frantically to get him out to the aircraft. Sure enough out bounds this army type and he climbs onto the wing with the welcome . . . “What the hell are you doing here?”

Whereupon he got a short, but nevertheless terse, version of the story.

“Look,” he said “can you see that church steeple at the far end of the strip? Well it’s loaded with German snipers and we’ve been all day trying to clear them out so you better drop your tanks and bugger off before it’s too late.”

In moments we were out of there but such was the welcoming for the first Spitfire at our B4 airstrip in Normandy.

The unbelievable sequel to this story took place in the early 1950s at Ford Motor Company in Windsor where I was employed at the time.

A chap arrived to discuss some business and enquired if I had been in the Air Force. “Yes, indeed,” I responded.

“Did you by chance land at Beny-sur-Mer in Normandy with two other Spitfires with jet tanks loaded with beer?” he asked.

“Yes for sure I did,” I answered, “But how on earth would you possibly be aware of that?”

“Well I’ll tell you,” he said, “I was the guy who climbed on your wing and told you to bugger off.”

We finished the afternoon reminiscing.