Royal Air Force Gütersloh — The Early Days
A diary report by John Beavin (80Sqn)
© John Beavin PR786/5R-U Tempest F2 33Sqn Gütersloh (ca. 1948) Early recordings from RAF Gütersloh are really rare. In war time Roman numerals were used in the names of the aircraft. Therfore we may define this aircraft as Tempest MkII or F2. From 11/30/1947 until 02/07/1949 33Sqn was based in Gütersloh, apart from two transfers to Lübeck and Gatow in 1948. A story about this special Tempest can be found at: http://www.hawkertempest.se/HinaidiToFritzlar.htm
Spitfire 24s, Tempest 2 & Vampires 1
80 squadron arrived at Gut from Gatow in July 1948 with Spitfire 24s, I was a flight mechanic, engines, and had joined the squadron at Wunstorf a month previously, the airfield was host to 16 and 26 squadrons with their Tempest 2s, flying tractors we called them because their Centaurus engines never seemed to tick over nicely, next door to us was 3 squadron with De Haviland F1 Vampires, soon called blow lamps. In those days we did a lot of flying, often air to ground firing with rockets, though I cannot remember where, must have been nearby because I remember one day my kite, W2 T did 12 sorties. Some of our pilots got so good that B flight was detached to Thorney Island for a week of demonstrations on Salisbury plain for some big wigs. Back at Gut we had a disaster, I cannot remember the date but 4 aircraft were flying in close formation with the c/o leading, his aircraft hit a down draft, and the one behind hit an up draft, chopping our squadron leader Newberry's tail off, both pilots baled out ok but unfortunately a piece of the second aircraft's wooden propeller went through Newberrys parachute, he would probably have landed safely had he not been impaled on a tree that had been struck by lightening, another funeral was for a lad recently arrived from training in Canada, I never found out why , but he just bellied in smashing his head on the gun sight.
As with all fighter squadrons we did the detachment to Lubeck for air to ground firing P2 Ozendorf , a Polish pilot got a ricochet in my kite and damaged the starboard radiator, it had to be left when we returned to Gut, two weeks later we went back with a new radiator and brought it back, P2 by the way was a new system of classing pilots, 2nd class, first class, and Master pilot, didn't last long for some reason.
Bielefeld had no attraction either
Off duty there was not much to do, I ventured into Gutersloh town on only a couple of occasions, Bielefeld had no attraction either, so going down to the gliding school was the best bet, running alongside holding the wing up on take off and landing, Some of my mates got keen and Bryan Coles managed to get a couple of gold's, height and duration, he was disappointed not to make the distance, This was the period of the Berlin air lift and one day a Hastings in some sort of trouble landed, on taxiing round the peri track he made a mistake, and running off got well and truly bogged down, in the end air bags were used to free him.
I can recollect foraging through the hangar next to ours, it was completely destroyed, but among the rubble were some German jet aircraft, all wrecked of course, that would be the last hangar, furthest away from our billets. I looked the airfield up on Google earth, and the buildings are nothing like how I remember them, long while ago but in my minds eye I can still see a squadron of fighters screaming across the runway, one by one breaking to port, dropping their gear and flaps, then side slipping in to a landing, all would be down in a couple of minutes zig zagging round the peri track to their hangar apron, Bedford QL bowsers would soon be busy refueling them.
One incident I will never forget, our B flight commander was always the last to land, the other squadrons had closed their hangar doors and gone to tea, there was much muttering and complaining until one fateful day he took my kite, tearing down the runway about to lift off the amour plate cover over the oil tank situated just forward of the cockpit flew off, it hit the fin and rudder joint, jamming it solid, it was only held in place by a spring clip, the sparkie had had the seat out and rested it in front of the cockpit, dislodging the spring clip. He managed to land Ok and then took another plane up, this time he had just got airborne when his engine belched out pure white smoke, he didn't attempt another flight until after lunch, this time all went well until he started doing aerobatics, he was upside down when the control column jammed, A little nut from the cockpit floor was found to have been the culprit, he must have been an excellent pilot because he got that aircraft down on the trimming tabs, when he landed he swore we were trying to kill him, he never flew late again. Later on we met him in a pub and explained that it was just a coincidence, He went on to be C/O of a Meteor squadron, (92) and was unfortunately killed performing at an air display in 1952.
In June there were lots of postings away from the squadron, my mate and I went to Lubeck where we did shift work refueling DC 3s on the air lift, then we heard that 80 sqdn was going to Hong Kong, the C/O ISDN/ldr Tremlett was not pleased to getting new ground crews so most of us were posted back and soon we dispatched our Spitfires to Renfrew to be ferried with 33 sqdns Tempests.
Some more Photos
© John Beavin VN304/W2-R unid plus two. Spitfire F24 80Sqn Gütersloh (ca. 1948) Spitfire pilots and technicians of 80Sqn lined up at a parade for the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) in front of the squadron hangar. Just for under a year Gütersloh was home to the squadron, maybe the the AOC just informed the unit with the planned relocation to Hong Kong! The 80Sqn remained in Hong Kong until 1955 and upgraded to the Hornet F3 in December 1955.
© John Beavin TX181 Anson C19 2Group Communications Flight Gütersloh (1948/1949) Die Anson nannten die Besatzungen und Techniker gerne liebevoll "Annie". Die Communications Flight der 2Group, RAF Sundern, lag vom 01.12.1948 bis 04.10.1958 in Gütersloh und flog neben der gutmütigen Avro Anson noch einige Meteor T7, Chipmunk T10 und Prentice sowie auch von den Einsatzstaffeln geliehene Venom FB9 und Canberra B2. AOC der 2Group war zu dem Zeitpunkt Air Commodore L F Sinclair.
© John Beavin KN5??/T Dakota C4 RAF Gütersloh (Winter 1948/1949) Gruppenbild mit Dakota. Leider lassen die fehlenden Ziffern keinen Rückschluß auf die Einheit zu. Die Maschine hat vermutlich an der Berliner Luftbrücke teilgenommen, wie insgesamt 150 Flugzeuge des Typs!
© John Beavin neun unid. Spitfire F24 80Sqn Gütersloh (ca. 1948) Für den Beobachter muss dieses Wirrwarr an Tragflächen, Luftschrauben und Leitwerken aus mindestens neun Spitfiere F24 chaotisch aussehen. Die Spitfire der 80Sqn tragen als Staffelcode ein "W2" und am Leitwerk das Squadron Crest. Im Hintergrund steht noch eine Anson C19. Von der letzen Version der Spitfire wurden nur 81 Maschinen gebaut (davon 22 aus Umbauten), mit ihrem 2.050 PS starken Griffon 61 konnte das Flugzeug die Höhe von 9.100 Meter in acht Minuten erreichen und eine Höchstgeschwindigkeit von 731 km/h schaffen! Ein Unikum: Die 80Sqn war die einzige jemals mit der F24 ausgerüstete Squadron der Royal Air Force!
© John Beavin unid. Hastings C1 47Sqn Gütersloh (Winter 1948/1949) Während der Berliner Luftbrücke diente Gütersloh lediglich als Ausweichflugplatz. Aufgrund der großen Zahl an täglich stattfindenden Transportflügen konnte es aber mal zu einer Landung kommen. Diese Hastings hat sich hier im Schlamm abseits der betonierten Flächen festgefahren, der rechte Hauptrad-Reifen wird soeben gewechselt. Nur drei Squadrons nahmen an der Luftbrücke mit der deswegen übereilt in Dienst gestellten neuen Hastings C1 teil: Die 47Sqn ab 11.11.1948, die 297Sqn ab Anfang 1949 und die 53Sqn ab Herbst 1949. Von daher lässt sich die Aufnahme und die Einheit relativ genau bestimmen.
© John Beavin VF279/J5-T Vampire F1 3Sqn Gütersloh (ca. 1948) One of the early vampires can be seen here in the colors of 3Sqn in front of the squadron hangar. The jet crashed on 25.9.1952, probably shortly before the planned demolition of the machine anyway. Only from April 1948 to May 1949 3Sqn flew this first version of the successful Vampire, after that the Squadron used the improved FB5 for another four years.