I joined the RAF in 1941 at the age of 20. I wanted to be a Pilot. I passed all the examinations for entry as Air Crew and at the finial Air Crew Selction Board I was recommended for training as a pilot. Unfortunately I failed the medical and was told I was colour blind. Upon entry I attended a 13 week course at St. Athan (in South Wales) to become a Flifht Mechanic working on aero engines. For about a year I worked on a unit which flew Anson Aircraft training Observers. I was sent on a 13 week Fitters course at Halton, after wich I returned to the Ansons. On the fitters course we had to specialise on 2 engines, I took the American Alison engine and the Hercules engine.
Photo left: Walter Reed on leave in Blankenburg, Belgium.
I was subsequentully posted to Odiham where a new unit was being formed. None of the personnel knew at the time that all the Airmen posted there had some special skills. We found that out later. The unit was FRU (Foward Repair Unit). I was assigned to work on Mustang Aircraft which were fitted with the Alison Engine. The Alison Engine was not supercharged and could not meet the requirements of the RAF. Merlin Engines were subsequently fitted and the Mustang section turned into a Typhoon section.
As a unit we were posted overseas to an airfield named Wevelgm in Belgium and renamed 151 Repair Unit. Here mobile units consisting a 3 ton lorry, a Jeep, a 60ft low loader and a crane. The idea was, any fighter aircraft which forced landed on the Continent would have one of these units attend. If it could be patched up and the Pilot agreed to take off, it would be flown to the main unit where it would be completely overhauled and sent out as a new machine.If it couldnt be flown off, the aircraft was dismantled and put on the low loader and returned to the main unit. The unit dealt with Spitfires,Typhoons (later Tempests) and Mosquitoes. It was when the Typhoon was phased out, we took over the Tempest.
B Flight 151 Repair Unit stationed at Wevelgem, Belgium in 1945.
Walter is located in the back row in the small cluster of guys on the center right.
As soon as the war in Europe was over the unit was moved to Luneberg in Germany, and it was here I remained until I was demobbed in September 1946. The Tempest was a wonderful aircraft with the Sabre Engine to work on. We were given 2 1/2 days to take out the old engine, clean and repair as necessary the engine bay, reinstall the new engine and ground test.
Upon return to civilian life, I obtained a position as a Draughtsman in a Glucose factory. I studied at night school 3 nights a week for 9 years to obtain the necessary qualifications, and after a number of years, step by step I was promoted to Chief Engineer. I have worked as Chief Engieer with 2 other companies and General Mannager to another. I retired in 1986 from a Swedish company (Alfa Laval). I now live in Ewell, within the Borough of Epsom and Ewell in the County of Surrey, with my wife (with whom I have just celebrated 60 years of marriage). I have a Son, a Daughter and 4 Granchildren.
Thanks to Walter Reed for this interesting story, a different view of the Tempest!
Christer Landberg (Webmaster)
Images and text:
Walter Reed and David Reed