The Airman's Story
Eventually, Doug, Albert and Chuck all arrived at Seraing, near Liège, where a sizeable group of allied evaders were cloistered in their various ‘safe houses’ anxiously awaiting the advance of the Allies. At this time, the Comète Line through France had been compromised but the Liberation of Belgium and freedom was not far away. Doug finally arrived back in England in the middle of September 1944. I was amazed to learn that he had made a special visit to "Dormeuil Frères" in central London, where my father worked, to give him news of his sister, Marthe, in Eisden.
After “survivor's leave”, Doug joined No. 9 Squadron and flew a further eight operations, all in daylight, with Flying Officer McIntosh and Flight Lieutenant Doug Tweddle, dropping the 12,000 pound 'Tallboy' Bomb, on strategic targets ahead of the advancing troops. On their final trip in March 1945, they were hit by flak but managed to limp home. Doug was demobbed in July 1946.
“I left Waddington on 8th July 1946 as a Flight Lieutenant, heading for Uxbridge demob. centre, four years and five months after joining up... I felt I was leaving a way of life and security for the unknown; most of my friends, however, had already been demobbed, the peace time R.A.F. was forming, it was time for me to start again in "civvy" street.”
12th September 1946
A Very Happy Ending
Doug's and Iris' Wedding Day
Please note that all extracts in blue italic type on this and the previous page are from "Jump or Die", a recently published book* by Flight Lieutenant Douglas Jennings.
* June 2005: I am delighted to announce that Douglas Jenning's personal recollections of his life in the RAF has been published by Tucann Books, price £10.00 plus £1.50 post & packing. Details of how to obtain your copy HERE.
I was priviledged to be given a copy of Doug's original unpublished manuscript when I first met him. I couldn't put it down – neither could my husband. His story is very well-written, and very interesting indeed, giving a real taste of what life was like at the outbreak of war and how meticulously the RAF trained the young recruits destined for aircrew. A window into the past, it is liberally sprinkled with humour throughout and full of tension as he recounts how he evaded.
Why this funny little picture? You have all heard of parachute silk? And you know that silk is spun by caterpillars. Well, since the invention of the parachute by an American called Leslie Leroy Irwin in 1919, anyone who bailed out of a disabled aeroplane to save his or her life automatically became a member of the Caterpillar Club and was presented with a little caterpillar badge and a certificate.
The Lancaster Bomber has always been one of my favourite World War II aeroplanes, to see some of my photographs, click the button on the right.
Visit this page at RAF Harkness for an account of one crew's
experience of dropping the Tallboy Bomb
Visit The Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby Airfield
Copyright © 2003-2005 Tessa Steer / Douglas Jennings - All Rights Reserved Worldwide