Three lucky escapes by John (Nobby)Hill

This is the true story of three lucky escapes by the Seletar Troop Foreman of Signals.

Much time was spent on “Jollies”, particularly in the Off Duty periods in the afternoon. These “Jollies” invariably arose from going round the RAF Squadron Operations Rooms and asking “Any chance of a cabbie ” today?

Escape No 1

There were six active Beverley’s in 34 Sqn and I had had a “jollie” in five of them but as the squadron was due to go home, I was lucky enough to be offered a flight to Katmandu on the other one. I was actually in Air Movements, put down as supernumery crew, when we had a serious cable fault on the airfield, and the boss, Capt.Bernie Strange insisted that I supervise the cable fault. No arguing…just do it. So reluctantly I had to leave the flight….somewhat hacked off.The aircraft hit a mountain in North Malaysia and all on board were killed.

Escape No 2.

When 46 Sqn and the Andovers took over from the Beverleys, I was offered a “cabbie up” to Kuala Lumpur. The objective of the flight was to look at some of the minor airfields up country in Malaysia and earmark those that could be used in an emergency. Just north of Kota Tinggii we attempted to land at an airfield which was part of a rubber plantation (I was in the Dicky Seat up front so I had a good view of everything).The first couple of circuits and the rubber trees were very close as we attempted to land so the pilot said ” One more try and we will move on to the next “. Well, he landed it perfectly, and put the brakes on and the props into reverse.Then it happened. Suddenly the metal runway started to rise up in front of us like an oscillation. It had been used by the Japanese during the war and the metal runway was laid along the runway instead of across the runway in smaller lengths.The upshot of it was that we ploughed into this rising runway, the nose wheel collapsed, the props bent and broke and then the full flaps buckled leaving us with the tail high in the aid and the nose on the ground.Happy ending, nobody was hurt and we spent the rest of the day……and the next as the guest of the plantation owner in his enormous bungalow and at the European Club by the pool, again as his guest. We flew out by helicopter the following day.

Escape No 3

Not quite so dramatic, but nevertheless still pretty scary. Taking some members of the troop out on a Jolly with either 103 Sqn or 110 Sqn in their whirlwinds (we called it a training exercise) we were up country north of Jahore  when we landed in a small clearance in the jungle (The Uloo). The lads got out for a smoke break and then we took off again. Suddenly at about10 feet from the ground there was a huge “Bang” and the engine failed and we dropped “pretty damn fast” back onto the landing strip. Only one very minor injury. Cpl Mohammed hurt his back with the jolt.  Not quite sure what happened next but from memory, the problem was solved and we took off again shortly afterwards in the same chopper…this time I think a few bottoms were going ” Half a crown..sixpence” so to speak.