Northern Ireland 1948-50

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In 1948 I returned to the United Kingdom to a staff posting at Headquarters RAF Northern Ireland, based at RAF Aldergrove, outside Belfast.  It was my first experience of staff (Policy) duties and one I appreciated very much.  It meant visiting the other RAF units in Northern Ireland and an opportunity to see that part of Ireland.  It also meant I was nearer to my home in Cork and able to see my parents, brother and sister more frequently. 

Flying still interested me and being friends with most of No.202 Squadron aircrew I was able to fly in their Halifax (Bomber) aircraft on ‘Bismuth’ sorties (weather reporting) that entailed flying from 30,000 feet down to sealevel over the Atlantic - each sortie lasted about 8 hours.  I also became a member of the RAF Northern Ireland Mountain Rescue Unit, a voluntary service group equipped and trained to deal with aircraft crashes in remote places.  This entailed a week-end exercise at least once a month staged at different simulated crash sites in Northern Ireland.  As a single person, not over-endowed with funds (my RAF pay at this time was some 16/- a day) these week-end exercises were ‘money savers.’ 

The atmosphere in Northern Ireland at that time was peaceful.  Though I did get spat upon one Saturday morning in the city of Armagh when I got out of my jeep to post a letter.  I deemed it prudent at the time to ignore the incident with nothing more than a hard stare at the aged gentleman!  The main depressing feature of the posting was the totally uncertain weather.  There was some consolation in that I made friendships at Aldergrove which still remain forty-seven years on.


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