86-1 Longford Park Village,PAPAKURA,1703 23rd December,2005
5 Squadron RNZAF Association,
The obituary for Ted Tompkins printed in the 5 Squadron RNZAF Newsletter Issue 30 of Spring 2005 brought back many memories of an association we had in the RAF in 1949 when on Sunderlands with 230 Squadron.
The photograph of Ted on the beach in Fiji highlighted the photographs I have of our two families doing the normal Kiwi thing of picnicing on the beach adjacent to Pembroke Dock in Wales - a beach otherwise deserted. The locals could not believe it and I suspect that this was endorsed by a number of the squadron personnel.
Ted, better known on the Squadron as "Tommy" joined our crew in March 1949 and we flew together until I was posted to the Far East Flying Boat Wing at Seletar, Singapore in December. Our fifty-five flights together covered almost 200 hours involving work with (or against ?) the Royal Navy anywhere between Gibraltar, Northern Island and the east and west coasts of England.
On accasion we operated out of Castle Archdale, a wartime Sunderland base for the RCAF adjacent to Killadeas, on Loch Erne, Northern Ireland during naval exercises. Ted was a teetotaller but this did not prevent him from being the life and soul of the party, particularly an the mandatory excursions across the border to the local pub, yet he had the ability to command total silence in advance of the arrival of the local constabulary on their routine rounds.
We also shared command duties during an RAF recruiting drive in the summer of 1949 when the Sunderlands were required to visit many of the coastal towns. The routine was to alight, (flying boats don't land) often in the open ocean, anchor close to the shore and in so doing, wave the flag. It was my duty to be rowed ashore and attend the formal welcome, pre-lunch function and official luncheon. In my absence the local boat operators were not averse to rowing a multitude of the public out to the aircraft. The charge was half-a-crown each for the journey and half-a-crown to shake the hand of the captain. I doubt that "Tommy", or any member of the crew who took it in turn to be captain, benefitted from this venture. But he did a good job in command, taking-off and returning to base at the end of the day.
I stayed with the RAF for many years after that and it was unfortunate that we never met again after my return to New Zealand. 1949 was a very memorable year.
L. J. (Lew) DAY