Jack's life and service up to 1942



Jack's life and service up to 1942


A memoir by Jack of his life before and service in the R.A.F. up to 1942. Has his comments on postings and events up to 1942.


Temporal Coverage




Typewritten account


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B0574910 Warrant Officer J G M Culkin
Royal Air Force
Born 14th May 1923
John George Mackel Culkin in Sunderland (East End) County Durham
Father – Thomas William Culkin
Mother – Ethel Jane Elizabeth May Culkin Nee Mackel
Moor Board School, East End Sunderland
Sunderland Technical College (Scholarship)

Royal Air Force
Joined 6th September as an Enlisted Aircraft Apprentice (38th Entry) at R.A.F. Halton, Buckinghamshire.
14th September posted to Apprentice training to R.A.F. Cosford, Shropshire, 1(a) Wing for full R.A.F. Technical Apprenticeship and further technical academic schooling.
3rd September war with Germany was declared.
Posted back to 3(a) wing R.A.F. Halton to finish shortened apprenticeship training.
Passed out as Aircraftman 1st class, but he was under 18 years of age so was not eligible foe “Mans service”.
29th June – posted to No 4 Group H.Q. Hesslington Hall, York. Found to be a non a/c establishment. After a cup of tea was sent to no 4 Group Bomber Command Communication Flight, Rawcliffe Lane, Clifton, York.
Flight manned by Class E reservists and World War 1 personnel.
Aircraft on flight strength;
Avro Tutor 504K, (Lynx engine).
Percival Proctor, cabin with side by side seating.
Miles Mentor, cabin with side by side seating.
Miles Magister, open cockpit tandem seating.
Flight aircraft used by staff officers from No 4 Group (Bomber Command) on visits to No 4 group airfields. Notably R.A.F. Leeming, Topcliffe, Linton – on – Ouse and Dishforth.
Apprentice J G Culkin became a popular airman to take around on site visits to look after aircraft and to do the starting drills. Eventually most staff officers took an interest in showing him how to fly and allowing him to take the controls for most of the flights. He became a very good flyer.
2nd July re-classified as Aircraftsman 1st Class and now qualified to carry out the duties of Fitter 2(Engines) on all R.A.F. aircraft. Working on flight and visiting aircraft including Westland Lysander, Hawker Hurricane, Supermarine Spitfire, de Havilland Albatross (passenger General Sir Alan Brooke), Bristol Blenheim and Botha and Handley Page Hereford.
3rd December posted to No 35 Squadron, R.A.F. Leeming, Yorkshire. First squadron to equip with Handley Page Halifax bomber. Squadron had one prototype aircraft. Shortly after arrival squadron moved to R.A.F. Linton – on – Ouse and received it’s full quota of aircraft. It quickly became operational.
1st March sat and passed trade Test examination and promoted to Leading Aircraftman. Now heading modification team, working on such projects as fitting all squadron aircraft with propeller de-icing systems, modifying air intakes and engine controls.
Station bombed on several occasions – Station commander killed. Aircraft damaged by fire bombs.
14th May, now 18 years of age, commenced mans service.
10th July promoted to corporal. Very proud. Very, very young for the rank, was posted to R.A.F. Middleton St George, co Durham, to new squadron no 76, fine unit good record.
Flew with squadron to Tain in Scotland with full bomb load. Waited several days for weather to clear for the squadron to bomb German pocket battleship Tirpitz in Trondheim Fiord, Norway, hard work long hours.
J G Culkin now in charge of a maintenance crew responsible for one of the Halifax bombers.
Bad time, charge, summary of evidence for Court Marshal – failing to carry duty as N.C.O. I/C anti-paratroops patrol and leaving arms and ammunition unguarded. Proceedings quashed by 4 group H.Q. this was in view of my work record. Not really my fault all due to administrative error which should have excused me being on full time guard duty commitments. Spent 14th May (my birthday) under close arrest. Thankful when it was over.
10th July all squadron aircraft and selected crews and personnel took off in the early hours for a mission in the Middle East. I was on of them. Planned to fly and land at Mersa Matruh in North Africa via Gibraltar.
Took a few days to service the aircraft and load bombs. Fly back to base by flying over Southern Italy and bomb the Italian fleet at Taranto. Over the alps and back to base – total tour 16 days. Result – landed Ismalia, Egypt – all four engines cut out on landing. Not even a smell of fuel in any of the tanks. Refuelled and flew on to Acqui in Palestine. Eventually joined by rest of squadron, two aircraft lost on journey – all aircrew safe.
[account ends]



Jack Culkin, “Jack's life and service up to 1942,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 14, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/19781.

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