Reg Miles Audio Memoir
Reg Miles Audio Memoir
Reg Miles's memoir in three parts. Part one Reg describes his childhood in St Peter’s on the Isle of Thanet, his family, school, lack of money, and holiday jobs. Reg joined the Royal Air Force as an apprentice, known as a ‘Brat’, in January 1939. He went to RAF Halton No 1 School of Technical Training, which had four wings with a thousand boys. After a medical examination, he was issued with a uniform and became a Fitter 2 (engines), looking after pieces of airframe. They were taught square bashing and he was promoted to leading apprentice. Reg recounts the antics of one Johnny Shaw who was expelled out of the Air Force. They did work in the extensive workshops, spending a few months learning how to use hand tools. Each one had a flight in a Tiger Moth. Reg then worked on engines (Merlins, Pegasus) then on aircraft. With the onset of war, his study was compressed and took his examinations after two rather than three years, becoming an Aircraftman 1st Class. Reg was posted as the sole apprentice to 34 Maintenance Unit in RAF Shawbury, which recovered crashed aircraft. His first job was removing instruments from a Spitfire. He talks of the importance of packing Masters onto sleepers and sandbags during transport, otherwise the centre section would hit the walls of humpback bridges. He was also tasked to remove burnt Ansons from a hangar. Part two Reg narrates how a Coles Crane sank in the mud when they tried to retrieve a Spitfire from a railway embankment. On another occasion, an aircraft was stuck in the roof of a village pub. They also had to recover an aircraft from a Welsh hilltop. He missed Christmas one year when their low loader was obstructed near the village pub. One plane they had to extricate had mistaken a chicken farm for a field and caused damage to the farm. They once had to close the tunnel in Liverpool to tow an aircraft. Reg recounts some incidents in which people lost their lives. Reg was transferred to 67 Maintenance Unit in Taunton. He details how they had to chop off part of a B-17 to get it back to the depot. Reg also performed the role of armourer for a time. He was sent to St. Eval in Cornwall where his first job was a Spitfire which had landed on a dry-stone wall. The Germans blew up the hangar where a recently restored Hurricane was located. Reg sought an overseas posting and sailed to South Africa on the SS Mooltan. He portrays life on board ship before he arrived in Bloemfontein at 27 Air School Bloemspruit. Reg carried out daily engine inspections of the Masters aircraft. They also had to make airworthy 104 Harvards, which were in a poor condition. Reg expresses his disquiet over the treatment of the African labourers. Part three Reg volunteered for aircrew, sailing back with the Mauretania and was posted to RAF Lympne. He was then posted to RAF St Athan for flight engineer training. He received instruction on Lancasters before going to a Heavy Conversion Unit. He joined a Canadian crew but with Halifax aircraft and Merlin engines. He was posted to a squadron with Les Lauzon (pilot) and carried out about six operations. He badly injured his hand removing an elevator lock so did not fly when his crew went missing. Reg subsequently found out that the aircraft was shot down, but they escaped and were taken as prisoners of war. Reg then joined 420 Squadron at RAF Tholthorpe and Jimmy Tease (pilot). His job was to stand next to the pilot and operate controls. He saw aircraft shot down, including a B-17 and witnessed V2s. Reg recounts some of the incidents they had with their aircraft and how they were dealt with. He gives a description of the FIDO aerodromes. Reg describes how the aircraft was struck by lightning in one operation. Reg received his commission and went to RAF Nutts Corner in Northern Ireland, a Transport Command station where he trained to fly Yorks. His final posting was to 242 Squadron at RAF Stoney Cross. Reg discusses his post-RAF life.
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Miles, R, “Reg Miles Audio Memoir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 5, 2023, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/39256.
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