‘The Doodlebug was coming straight for us’: Wartime crewmen given voice by veteran and Havering historian
�Forgotten tales of the crewmen who kept the Allied aircraft in the sky during the Second World War are detailed in a new book by a Havering hero veteran historian.
Ron “Binkie” Bayford is nearly 90 but can remember the terror as if it were yesterday when he and a friend were nearly hit by a stray Doodlebug rocket while repairing a plane in Holland.
“It was just 20ft above the ground, flying straight towards us,” he writes. “We were too petrified to move, but it dived gently and exploded [nearby]. We were so shaken we had to take the rest of the day off.”
His book, The Adventures Of ‘Binkie’ Bayford, tells of the lucky escapes of the then-teenage fuselage repairman – known as a ripper – and his hair-raising experiences in the special RAF Servicing Commando.
He served during the Allied advance into Normandy, Belgium and Holland.
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Publisher Richard Smith, of South Hornchurch, commissioned the book after meeting Mr Bayford on the local history circuit.
He said: “It’s not often you hear about the men on the ground – it’s mostly the pilots’ stories. But when I heard Ron’s tales, I loved them. They are filled with not only the bitter struggle of war and survival but also the spirit of comradeship and humour.”
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Mr Bayford, of Grays, Essex, signed up at the age of 18 and volunteered for the RAF in 1940. Before the war, he played guitar with a number of local bands.
He said: “I was one of the lucky ones. I had nearly five years on airfield dispersals and know what it was like to be ‘shot up’ and bombed while servicing Spitfires, Typhoons and Tempests. But I came out unscathed except for a smashed knee.
“This is a testimonial for my mates who did not make it and for those who did.
“Much has been written or filmed about the fighter and bomber pilots but we were the unsung heroes of the Second World War.”
n The book is published by Mitor. Signed copies are available at �9.99 at www.mitorpublications.co.uk and Swan Books in Corbets Tey Road, Upminster. Also available at bookshops.