A Delightful Afternoon and Evening with 74 Squadron
We wandered down to the lounge around 5 PM and sat down, wondering if we would recognize the 74 Squadron. We had some idea, but it was all too easy when the first person I came across was a tall, slender, friendly man in a navy blue shirt with the Tiger Squadron badge, who looked as though he might just be in charge, in a subtle, inoffensive way. It was Bob Cossey, the Association's Secretary who had booked our hotel room, and was the author of both "74 Squadron" and "A Tiger's Tale." We learned from Bob that John would likely arrive on Saturday, around 3:30. Some minutes later, Bob introduced us to Ian Cadwallader, from New Zealand, who flew Meteor 8's and Hawker Hunters in the post-World War II days, and left 74 three months before the English Electric Lightnings came. He went on to fly DC-3's and Fokker F-27 Friendships, and on up to Boeing 767's before he retired from Air New Zealand. His daughter is retired from the RAF, as well, and was a logistics officer in the first Gulf War, after attending Cranwell. We talked and talked, and were joined by Ian's old friend, Peter Clarke, a friend of the Squadron, who retired after 36 years in the RAF in a force protection, and security role, and then went into private security work. Peter's wife, Sylvian, was born in the Orkneys, and moved to Montreal and then Calgary. They currently live in Uxbridge.
It was all too easy to find fellowship in these warm and welcoming people. I barely had time to school Lin in what I remembered of aircraft in the squadron, the pre-World War II RAFVR, and the training scheme beginning with Tiger Moths. And then Ian related that he worked at an aero club in NZ and unofficially learned to fly in a Tiger Moth before joining the New Zealand Air Force, and having the good fortune to be one of the four of ten interviewees selected for transfer and training in the RAF.
Before we knew it, it was dinner time, and another.... can you believe it.... fabulous turkey dinner.... our native bird, almost our national symbol, roasted to perfection.... in the Midlands, by a Pakastani sous-chef. Great, great food, and companionship.
Suddenly, its 3 hours past bedtime, and I haven't phoned percyprune which I will do at a respectable hour, in deference to Moto.
We checked in with Becky and Josh and now it's Batman on the BBC. And thanks to the internet, I can follow the Bruins in the Los Angeles Times. We are having a great time. We love England, and 74. And the best is yet to come.