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You Are To Carry On, Good Luck Z-Zebra

CHAPTER 3 

Home Again


There were to be no more letters from America and in November, to the family's great surprise Charlie, now Pilot Officer Charles Harrison, appeared on the doorstep resplendent in RAF Officer's uniform complete with Pilot Wings.

His sister Florence Morgan now 90 recalls:  

'He arrived back in England in late October 1942, but we didn't see him until he had two weeks leave in mid-November. We neither knew that he was coming home nor that he had qualified as a pilot. While he was at home on leave, we had a big celebration for his 21st birthday (12 June 1942) and to welcome him home'.

The announcement of Charlie's promotion to Pilot Officer on Probation (Emergency) was announced in the Supplement to the London Gazette of 8 December 1942 with effect from 25 September 1942.

All too soon Charlie had to return to the air force and after a posting to No. 11 (Pilots) AFU (Advanced Flying Unit) at RAF Wheaton Aston near Penkridge, Staffordshire for training, probably on the twin engine Airspeed Oxford, he was posted to RAF Newton, near Nottingham. It is from there that he wrote:

6 January 1943 

P/O. C Harrison, Officers Mess RAF Station, Newton, Near Nottingham.

Dear Mum Dad and Flo (Sis was by now away in the Women's Land Army and Charlie wrote to her direct) 

Thank you so very much for your letter I received it just before leaving Wheaton Aston and was pleased to hear that you all had a pretty decent Christmas.

Honestly Mum this continuous moving about is beginning to make me fed up; I suppose it's necessary and can't really be helped but all the same it's difficult to know what's happening. No sooner do we get settled in one place than we are moved to another, it may be pleasant during the summer time but right now it's nothing but a damn nuisance. Anyway that's quite enough moaning Mum I'm quite sure I must be having a good time compared to some of the other fellows.

We have been moved to Newton for a course in instrument flying which I for one am finding extremely interesting. The course is quite short Mum and by rights we should return to Wheaton Aston by Sunday, however I have my doubts - the weather seems to have its own ideas on the subject.

Last night I went into Nottingham during a grand snowstorm and by devious ways eventually reached the castle and proceeded to have a good look round - all very romantic no doubt but the snow soon changed my mind so I hopped into a little pub almost on the castle wall. I don't believe I have ever seen a place so old before. It dates from 1189 and has been absolutely untouched since, in fact the hooks let into the stone roof for supporting bacon are still intact but what interested me more than anything else was a dungeon down in the vaults which led right through into the castle. I can just imagine old Flo's hair standing on end whenever the rats scuttled over the beer barrels - Ohhhhhhhh! Mum.

How is Sis going along Mum I haven't been able to write to her during the last few days but am hoping to drop her a line very soon. Must hear how the jolly old 'spuds' are going on. 

Well Mum it's just about time for bed again so will close now but will be giving you more 'gen' soon.


The Olde Trip to Jerusalem, Nottingham where Charlie went to escape from the snow (above)


3 March 1943

P/O. C Harrison, Officers Mess, RAF Lichfield, Staffs. 

Dear Mum, Dad and Flo,

Have just finished dinner after another day's hard grind so just feel in the right mood to write you again, especially as the Batman has just made me a perfect No. 27, Sunday afternoon fire.

During my stay at Lichfield I'm afraid I haven't given you the slightest idea of what I have been doing and I feel sure that just a little enlightenment would not go amiss.

At last Mum after all these moths of training I have an operational aircraft to fly; namely the old Wellington, we call it 'Wimpy' but it really is a beauty.

Since returning from America I've been under the impression that I should be flying fighter aircraft but the big nobs think differently so I'm flying bombers instead and believe me Mum I'm not sorry. The fellows I have picked for a crew are four of the best that you could wish for and I wouldn't change the job now for anything. Honestly Mum it was a big moment for me when I climbed into the old 'Wimpy' for the first time with the rest of the lads and since then we never feel happy until we're off the ground on some mission or other. 

A few days ago we had the most marvellous trip you could possibly wish for, it took nearly seven hours of continuous flying and consisted of a flight to the Scilly Isles and back by a devious route. Just imagine it Mum straight out over Salisbury Plain and Stone Henge, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall then to see Lands End fade away into the distance as we set course for the Isles. That trip certainly brought back some memories Mum. I just couldn't mistake Clovelly with its tiny harbour, nor Bude Bay either and although they take some beating on the ground, from the air they look even more perfect. When the flight commander gave me the route I couldn't get into the air fast enough and I think you'll agree that it was really worth it. 

I'm not too sure about leave yet but will let you know as soon as possible.

Well time is getting on now and I think an early night would be a good idea so will close now hoping you are still all very well and looking forward to seeing you soon.

God bless you all, 

Fondest love

Charlie xxxx

Fondest love to Grandma, Auntie Flo and Uncle Stan Mum and I hope to be writing to old Sis again soon.

                          

                                                                              A Vickers Wellington MkIII (Wimpy) -  courtesy IWM


                                                                             Contents                                                              Chapter 4

RW 04.10.2015

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning we will remember them. - Laurence Binyon

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