Guest: John Wall
Hosts: Dave Homewood
Recorded: 27th of July 2016
Duration: 1 hour 43 minutes 6 seconds
In this episode Dave Homewood chats with Mr. John Wall, of Hamilton. Born in London in 1923, John fell in love with the Supermarine Spitfire at the age of 16 and determined he’d join the Royal Air Force to fly them. He was enlisted at 17 years old, and following initial training in Britain, he was sent to the USA to learn to fly at a British-owned American-run flying school in Texas. There he trained on Boeing-Stearman PT-18A Kaydets (aka the Stearman), and then he progressed on to North American AT-6 Texans.
He then returned to Britain for a short time where he flew Miles Masters at Wrexham and Ternhill, before being posted to Ishmailia in Egypt where he finally got onto fighters, the Hawker Hurricane and then his dream machine, the Spitfire, at an Operational Training Unit.
Following this final phase of training he became a courier pilot for a Royal Air Force Photo Reconnaissance Unit in Italy, flying films and photos around the units, flying a Hurricane and a Fairchild Argus.
Some months later he was posted again, this time to No. 32 Squadron, on Spitfires. He was part of the Balkans Air Force, based in Italy but regularly crossing the Adriatic Sea to attack German targets in Yugoslavia and perform convoy escorts, etc.
Then the squadron was moved into Greece to support the Allied invasion of that country and John’s squadron was involved in the pushing out of the Germans from Athens. Then they moved north to Salonika, but the winter snow curtailed Spitfire flying and the squadron was soon issued a pair of Austers to fly in support of the Army’s push.
Next No. 32 Squadron headed south again, this time to Palestine, where they were given the task of carrying out coastal patrols in an effort to prevent the illegal Jewish immigrant boat people landing in the British-ruled Arab country. WWII ended while John was there. He remained there till mid-1946 when he was finally demobbed. John moved to New Zealand in the early 1970’s.
Note: The Music is Sir William Walton’s “Spitfire Prelude and Fugue”
My sincere thanks to John Wal, Liz Needhaml and Ian Bisset