Glider trip rekindles Gordon’s memories of time in service in the RAF during World War Two

Posted: 14/09/2015 | Scottish War Blinded

Scottish War Blinded member Gordon Mills describes how a recent glider trip experience, organised by the charity’s Linburn Centre, rekindled memories of time in service in Burma and India during World War Two.

Glider trips are keenly anticipated amongst Scottish War Blinded’s membership during the spring and summer months. Having heard about the positive experiences from fellow members, Gordon, who served in the RAF during World War Two, decided it was time, once again, to take flight.

Scottish War Blinded members enjoying the Linburn Centre sensory gardenGordon, pictured enjoying the Linburn Centre sensory garden, describes his experience:

“With the aid of the thermals it appeared that the machine danced on its tail and at another time it appeared to hover as the up draughts shots us up to 3,500 feet. After a few more aerial acrobatics my friendly instructor right out the blue and quite unexpectedly said ‘How would you like to loop-the-loop?’. ‘Are you serious?’ I immediately reported.

“I was then asked if I had ever experienced G force and I replied by saying yes I had, a long time ago in a Beaufighter. We instantly took a nosedive heading towards the earth and, as we turned to do the loop, my stomach continued to move down. It reminded me so much of my Beaufighter dive nearly seventy years ago that I had to relate this story to the pilot.

“My story begins in 1945 when our squadron was in Burma. The war in Europe was now over and now and modern equipment began to arrive including rockets for the Beaufighters. We were dispatched to India, near Madras, for a two week training programme to learn how to operate the new equipment.

“Targets were set up on an island in the Indian Ocean for the crews to practice firing the rockets. On the third day, I had the opportunity to fly on one of the Beaufighters with the simple task of cocking the 20mm Hispano cannons for the pilot to fire on the targets as well as the rockets.

“We set off for the islands and, after a few miles, the pilot told me to cock the cannons as we flew towards our island target. I had already been warned about the almost vertical dive the pilot would take before firing but it would turn out to be an unforgettable experience.

“I have no idea of our diving speed but I was surprised at what I later knew as G force. I was surprised by the effect and felt my stomach apparently still moving forwards towards the earth and the Beaufighter moved upwards.

“Back to my glider flight, we continued to fly over Loch Leven as I told the pilot my story as we shared some laughter. We had a marvellous hour up there dancing above the thermals and looping the loop, something I had always wanted to do but never had the opportunity until now with Scottish War Blinded. A day never to be forgotten.”   

Gordon served in the RAF during World War Two and developed significant sight loss long after time in service. Do you know someone like Gordon you can guide to us?