Sunday, April 19, 2015


Welcome to the Laws Family Register. 


One Man’s War, a bit about the RAF

Part 3

by John Robert Laws 1921-2008

On New Year’s Day 1942 I made my first flight as an instructor at Elmdon (Now Birmingham Airport) located between Birmingham and Coventry, you had to turn smartly left on takeoff to avoid running into cables of the Barrage Balloons flying over the city to prevent low level air attack. 

My stay at Elmdon lasted just six weeks during which time I did eighty six hours as a Sergeant instructor before I promoted from Sergeant to Pilot Officer and had to be posted since you were not allowed to remain on the same unit as an officer where you had served as a NCO. This move was to Desford near Leicester where I stayed for the rest of my time as an instructor.

Desford was a good airfield for the job. It was on high ground north of the valley that lies between Leicester and Hinckley and there were no surrounding obstructions.  There was a small factory alongside belonging to Reid & Sigrest making aircraft components and the field had been a flying club before the war. 

We had some forty of fifty Tiger Moths which flew most of the daylight hours and stood out in the open in all weather. 

There were a couple of hangers for maintenance and repairs and mechanical failure was virtually unknown. Accidents were rare and usually due to heavy landings when an instructor allowed a pupil to go too far before taking control. We normally flew the same aircraft and there would be minor variations between the behaviour of one to another.

I got caught out on one occasion when not using my regular aircraft, I allowed a pupil to land from a long gliding approach on a cold day. When he bounced it high in the air I opened the throttle wide to catch it, and nothing happened. 

Except that is we dropped like a brick, the undercarriage gave up and we slid along on our nose with the prop shattering in all directions till we turned over forwards and landed upside down hanging in our harness. I hadn’t realised that the fuel mixture was set a fraction weaker than my usual machine and that the engine needed to be warmed up after the descent before landing. Black Mark!

By March 1944 the need for training more pilots was diminishing (having been involved in the training of up to 400 pilots,) instructors were being moved over to operational flying. I was posted to an Advanced Flying Unit at Banff where we flew Airspeed Oxfords a twin engine low wing monoplane trainer. I did about sixty hours day flying and twenty hours night flying on this course, about half under instruction and half solo, finishing the course in the middle of May.

There was now a gap in flying from 15th May to 15th June. Sometime and somewhere in this gap crews were put together. A crowd of pilots, navigators, bomb aimers and wireless ops were got together for a few days and had to sort out fellow crew members with whom they could and would work and fly a tour of operations, somehow or other the gunners got tacked on later.

Then it was on to Lossiemouth where we flew old Vickers Wellingtons from the satellite field at Elgin. It was a lovely setting with the field almost ringed with mountains but not close enough to be threatening in the summer weather. Now that crews had been formed I spent the major part of my time in the company of Cliff and Frank and we shared a room at Blackfriars Haugh in Elgin. The house had been taken over as an annexe of the Lossiemouth officers mess. We had a large bedroom which had at some time earlier been made over to a bathroom which now contained three beds. Blackfriars was a large stone built house set in a garden beside the river Lossie.
I revisited Elgin some fifty years later and Blackfriars looked just the same though the town of Elgin was unrecognisable.

The Wellington was one of the great aircraft of the RAF’s history. By this time they were pretty well out of operational service and those we flew were far from new. With their two big Pegasus engines giving their all they lumbered off the grass field but once airborne they wanted to fly and handled nicely, without bomb load of course. 

The big props whirled away a foot or two from ones left ear and the wingtips could be seen to flap as the flexible geodetic construction took up the strain. Night flying was a farce in the Highland summer, it never got really dark but there are some thirty seven hours night flying shown in my log book in the seventy seven hours flying time at Elgin. 

Our cross country flying included a trip to Rockall out in the Atlantic; we didn’t spot it but couldn’t have been far out as out landfall on return was spot on.   

To be continued tomorrow

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Family Events from our database for today April 19

1626 - Marriage: Simon BRICKENBURY-2183 and Mary LAWES-2184, Brenzett, Romney Marsh 1651 - Marriage: Nathaniel LAWES-429 and Mary ???-430, London All Hallows, London Wall
1675 - Marriage: Charles LAWS-5526 and ??? OLIVER-5527, Feltwell NFK UK
1705 - Birth: Elizabeth LAWS-7018, Trunch NFK
1797 - Death: James LAWS (Innkeeper & Agent for London Trades) -3616, Great Yarmouth NFK

                                                                  Great Yarmouth NFK

1802 - Marriage: William LAWES-616 and Leah SAUNDERS-617, St.Brides MDX
1806 - Birth: Sally LAWS-3901, Plymouth, Windsor Co VT United States
1824 - Baptism: Ann LAWES-46836, Overton WIL UK
1833 - Birth: Sarah Ann LAWS-119620, Sullivan NH USA
1836 - Birth: William George LAWS (Civil Engineer) -40144, Tynemouth NBL UK
1849 - Birth: Nancy Ann LAWS-41247, Praire City, Rush Co, IN USA
1854 - Marriage: Thomas Valentine RESTON-58433 and Mary Ann LAWS (Dairy Maid / Spr)                  - 6639, Stratton Strawless NFK UK
                                                          Stratton Strawless Norfolk

1875 - Burial: Roger LAWS (Ag Lab & Widower) -35894,
1893 - Confirmation: Caroline Goodacre LAWS (General Servant) -125135, Kensal Green MDX UK
1894 - Miscellaneous: Mary Jane Heath LAWS-8786,
1894 - Will Proved: Benjamin Wilson LAWS (Commercial Traveller) -4745,
1894 - Miscellaneous: Albert Heath LAWS (Commercial Clerk & Photographer) -4744,
1900 - Death: Henry LAWS-115132, Pelham Twp., Welland Co., ONT CANADA
1902 - Miscellaneous: Charles Bennett LAWES (Sculptor) -226,
1903 - Birth: Elsie Esther LAWS-5143, Grays ESS UK
1904 - Birth: Hilda Janet LAWS (Teacher) -3970, Grafton, NSW AUSTRALIA
1905 - Birth: Thomas LAWES (RN L14411) -47678, Tilshead WIL UK

                                                               Tilshead Wiltshire

1908 - Birth: Hannah LAWS-54517,
1908 - Death: Stephen LAWES (Ag Lab) -2979,
1912 - Death: Ernest Frederick Robert LAWES (Newspaper Manager) -1715, Mansfield, Westcliff                Gardens, Bournmouth HAM

                                                              Bournemouth Hampshire

1917 - Miscellaneous: James Robert LAWS (Slater & Roof Tiler) -43211,
1918 - Death: Thomas George LAWS (ARMY Lance Corporal 21507) -45144,
1928 - Will Proved: Sarah Ann LAWES-2445,
1932 - Marriage: John Bailey LAWS Jr -45940 and Zada KINCADE-45941,
1937 - Death: Frederick (Relieving officer) LAWS-6105, East Dereham NFK UK
1942 - Marriage: Edward Royal LAWES (Australian Army) -32390 and Phyllis Mary O'BRIAN-                47051, Cowra NSW AUSTRALIA
1948 - Birth: William Alleyn LAWS (Journalist & Writer) -122733, Bournemouth HAM UK
1951 - Birth: Rebecca Ann LAWS-29737, TX USA
1955 - Birth: Graham Albert LAWS-51552, Stratford ESS UK
1955 - Death: Geoffrey Gary LAWES (ARMY Lt 407940 RTR) -50832,
1956 - Birth: Janice Irene LAWS-56058, Kensington MDX UK
1957 - Burial: Thomas John LAWS (Grocer) -38409, Park Grove Cemetery, Broken Arrow, Tulsa                OK USA
1962 - Estate to: Charles Albert LAWES-124206,
1962 - Burial: Louis V LAWS-45648, Salt Lake City UT United States
1968 - Burial: Horace William LAWS-57189, Chadwell Heath Cemetery ESS UK
1972 - Birth: Andre LAWS-40552, TX USA
1977 - Birth: Julia Maria LAWS-43339,
1977 - Birth: Julie Maria LAWS-41879,
1985 - Birth: Jonathan Vanden LAWS-40742, TX USA
1999 - Death: Leslie LAWS-31852, NSW AUSTRALIA

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