Letter from Harold Wakefield to his parents



Letter from Harold Wakefield to his parents


Writes about the issue of the 1939-45 star which he and his crew had received. Relates that he had to bale out after his aircraft had been in collision with a Halifax. mentions damage received and describes crew abandoning the aircraft. Goes on to describe his decent and landing and walking to a small village and subsequent events. Found that his aircraft had been landed by the pilot with one other crew still aboard. Explains why one crew did not bale out. Goes on to mention events on their return to base. Explains that if he was on operations they need not worry all the next days as there would be a telegram by 10 o'clock if anything had happened to him.




Eight page handwritten letter and envelope


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1582185 Sgt. Wakefield, H.E.
Sergeants Mess,
R.A.F. Snaith,
Nr. Goole,

Dear Mum & Dad,

Many thanks for your letter which I received to-day. Glad to hear you are both quite fit etc. I am quite well & happy. But have quite a lot to tell you. The 1939-45 Star has just been issued. Its a medal for active service during those years. Quite a few of the crews here have received it including my crew & me. For us to get it we have to have been on 'ops' for 2 months or more. So we have got. We wear it under

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our brevets, its got three colours in perpendicular stripes dark blue, red & light blue. We call it the spam gong.

The other thing I've got to tell you about is very exciting. I've baled out! & made a successful descent by parachute. Mon. night as you know we went to Berlin, Tues. & Wed nights we had off. Thursday we took off at 11.30 p.m. for Frankfurt. We flew down England & turned towards the coast at Reading. As we neared the coast before we new what had happened another Halifax hit us. It sort of side-slipped across the top of us. There was a terrific crunching etc. But Johnny kept control all the time. But it was very hard to fly & we were losing height. Half the tailplane & one rudder

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was torn off. Two feet of the port wing was ripped off, one of the props. was shattered consequently we only had three engines & they had been knocked about a bit & any minute we expected the rest of the tailplane to fall off. But we held on while we crossed the coast & jettisoned our bombs in the sea. Then we turned back over land again, and Johnny gave orders to 'abandon aircraft'. He said he'd stay a bit & see if he could land it by himself, but if necessary he'd bale out himself. So we clipped on our 'chutes said a little prayer (at least I did) & baled out one after another. We were all a bit nervous, but I was pretty excited myself. Anyway I went out headfirst & was battered & banged about by the slipstream, I turned several somersaults,

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and dropped several hundred feet. Then there was a colossal jerk as if I'd been torn in half & I knew my 'chute had opened O.K. I jumped at 10,000 ft. but there was no wind hardly & I drifted down, it was a lovely sensation floating down, but it only took me about 7 mins. before I hit the ground with a bit of a thud, my knees buckled up & [inserted] I [/inserted] landed on my [underlined] bum. [/underlined] On the way down I crashed through a tree but luckily didn't stuck [sic] although I did get [deleted] ge [/deleted] a slight scratch across my cheek. I landed in a field. So I rolled my 'chute up slung it over my shoulder & started walking over fields & hedges till I came to a road, after about 2 hrs. walking I came to a small village. I went to house & knocked them up (by this time it was 3 o'clock Friday morning as I baled

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out about 1 o'clock. They took me in (it was a young man & his wife) & were very good. They wanted to give me a bath, whisky etc. But I had a cup of tea. They rang the nearest R.A.F. 'drome up & gave them all the particulars. The 'drome was only about 10 miles away & someone was sent immediately in a car to pick me up. When I got to the drome I found that Johnny had landed the plane there with Joey still aboard. Jeff & Dick were also there, cars had been sent out to pick them up, then Mick & soon after Jock were brought. They all mad it O.K. I came down nr. Chiddingfold in Surrey, we were all came down within a few miles of each other.

Joey had gone to bale out & somehow got

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stuck across the exit with his parachute dangling outside, he couldn't let go his hold to pull it back in. It hadn't opened as he hadn't pulled the rip cord. It was still attached to him & he was stretched [sic] across the exit with his shoulders on one side & his feet on the other. Consequently he couldn't move one way or the other & if his parachute had blown open at all the sudden pull would have undoubtably broken his back. So Johnny had no other alternative than to try & land the plane. Well he landed it O.K. & Joey said it was perfect, he wasn't jolted at all. Consequently we all got together at this 'drome in Surrey. We were there until mid-day Friday. Then we left & came back to here by train, in reserved 1st. class coaches which Johnny arranged for us.

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We got back here about 9.30 Friday night. The Wing Commander was waiting to greeting us & said it was a very good show. He took us all in his car to the mess & got us a slap up supper. Then took us all in his car again to our huts & said we could have to-day off. So thats it. Now we're wondering if Johnny will get a medal for saving the plane & Joey as well, at the risk of his own life. I hope he does. He deserves it. Many other pilots would have lost control of the plane after an impact like that. We were given the once over by the M.O. this morning. Micky is in bed with a cold & a temperature. Jock & Joey have to have a sleeping draught to-night & see him again tomorrow. The rest including me, are quite O.K.

Well thats the story. I'm quite O.K. & ready to

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fly again.

By the way if you think I'm on ops one night don't worry all the next day for fear I'm not back for if anything went wrong you'd have a telegram the very next morning. So if I'm on ops. one night & you've had no telegram or anything by 10 o'clock the next morning, then you know I'm back O.K.

Well I guess thats all now, I'll write again about Wednesday. You'll get this Mon. or Tues.

So ta-ta for now,

All my very best love, Ally
[three rows of kisses]

P.S. In your letter this morning you said you didn't have a letter from me Friday. You should have because I posted one to you on Thursday. Still you probably got it to-day. xxx

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[stamp] [ postmark]

Mr. & Mrs. W.E. Wakefield,
"Sunny[?] Glen",
85, Evington Drive,


H E Wakefield, “Letter from Harold Wakefield to his parents,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 16, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/33698.

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