I suppose its only natural that if you place 1300 young men in a muddy, dangerous environment like Mudhampstead was, then there will always be tales of humour as well as the pathos that was occurring almost daily. Percy Knife was a local Englishman employed by the Air Ministry as an electrician covering the whole of Station 131. A wonderful character with a great memory and a wealth of stories.
Walking past one of the innumerable Bell Tents dotting the English Countryside, by the accommodation blocks, one cold November day he was surprised to hear a loud Whoof. Suddenly one of the tents burst into flames and five young men tumbled out laughing their heads off. They had set up a portable oxygen cylinder, with a tank containing waste engine oil, and had jury rigged their own form of oil fired central heating, which went very wrong indeed!
Percys next example actually caused him quite a headache. He had a problem with the circuit breakers coming out in the power house and cutting off the meagre supply to the accommodation areas. It happened 3 nights in a row at roughly the same time.
The fault was proving very difficult to locate, in fact there was nothing to find at all, but that did not stop those breakers from popping out that very night again. At last, by creeping around and keeping his ears to the ground the culprit was discovered. An enterprising young man had found a Searchlight carbon had found a way of connecting one end to the live of the supply, the other to the neutral via a crude switch. He plunged the carbon in a pot bellied stove filled with coal/coke then marvelled at the 10 seconds of instant fire ignition before it blew the breakers out. Problem solved.
A cartoon in Yank magazine shows a B-17 buried in the thatched roof of a typical English country cottage. The two hapless pilots are standing at the front door, one is saying to the other Damn, I hate these apologising jobs
Yet another shows a B-17 in a back yard of what appears to be central Berlin.
The crew are scrambling over a large brick wall, with the pilot already at the kerb edge, with his arm raised shouting TAXI.
Air Crews themselves have many tales of humour, often of a more subtle nature, but very funny too. When flying missions, pilot and co-pilot shared the control handling, but on the run-up to the target the pilot usually exercised the right to take over.
Imagine them both sitting hunched up in their seats, sitting on their flak vests to protect the Family Jewels and trying to make as small a target as possible to the intense flak barrage bursting all around them. The pilot calls for a control adjustment to the co-pilot who looking out of the window at the flak points to the console and replies I am damned if I am going to stick my arm out there.
Oh yes, All This and Humour Too
Malcolm 'Ozzie' Osborn