Pilot Officer Geoffrey Hall Porter

In his own words

At the end of the 1938 season I was looking after some other aircraft (the DH89 and DH84) and a Puss Moth which I had been requested to fly at weekends on Army Co-operation for the Army. At the beginning of 1939 I was invited to become a flying instructor with the Newcastle Aero Club (Read Local News Report) and decided that it was time that I looked round for a place to live and get married. I found a bungalow quite close to the aerodrome but my wife still wanted to live nearer her mother so I applied for a Flying Instructor's post with the Elementary Flying Training School at Gravesend, Kent., and was accepted after a successful test at R.A.F. Little Rissington 'Central Flying School'. We then decided to purchase a new house near the aerodrome, and moved in. Things went very well until the end of the year, when war was declared on the 3rd day of September, 1939.

The day before war broke out we were all told to put our uniforms on and fly the aircraft to various places in England to disperse them.  I was detailed to go to Castle Bromwich with a Tiger Moth.

On arrival there I looked up and to my astonishment I saw a barrage balloon appear out of the cloud at about 700-800 feet. I found out afterwards that there were four balloons at that height around the aerodrome. We had had no prior notification of this. However, fortunately, there were no accidents so it all passed off without any comment.
Two of us went along to the police station and told the sergeant in charge that we wanted to be billeted and he came along with us while we chose where we would like to be housed. We drove around a bit until we finally found a nice big double fronted house and went to see if the lady would let us billet there. She said she didn't know to start with and would have to ask her husband. It turns out that he was a butcher with two or three shops and when he showed up he said that he would be only too pleased to have us and that we could bring our wives up as well. And so we went down and picked them up and had a very pleasant fortnight with this Mr. Darrel, who became a very sincere friend. It wasn't long before the other instructor and myself were moved over to Elmdon which was the main aerodrome for Birmingham. Although today it has now been upgraded and expanded to become Birmingham International Airport, Elmdon at this time was only a grass airfield with no runways. Once over at Elmdon my wife and I went to stay with one of her cousins who had a house near Solihul. Her husband owned a tyre factory business just outside of Birmingham so we had no trouble getting tyres for our cars, even in those days of severe shortages. We stayed there for some months when eventually Doris became pregnant. We then thought that it would be a good thing if we could get into a furnished house of our own and managed to find one not very far away. We moved in there to start with until my wife became too large and she decided that she would like to go home to her mother in Chelmsford, Essex. So I bundled her off to her mother's and I moved into digs with another instructor by the name of Tom Walls. His father was an actor, and had played the lead part in a film called 'Rookery Nook' along with many others.

One day while we were grounded at Elmdon, because of low cloud, another instructor and myself had been down to the local pub for a glass of beer when we heard an aircraft in the area followed by some big thumps. We assumed that there was something going on at the aerodrome and immediately got in the car and drove straight back there. Once we arrived, we met the CO at the top of the airport building, dressed only in his pyjamas, with a pistol in his hand and waiting for the aircraft to come back. In the meantime it had dropped four or five bombs on the aerodrome, before scattering back into the cloud again and vanishing. However, the bombs that had been dropped left big craters in the grass airfield, including one that was only twenty yards away from the main building - definitely a close call!

In the meantime the baby was on the way and Doris was taken up to Danbury Palace in Essex. Danbury Palace was a property belonging to a general and his wife that had been turned into a maternity home for the duration of the war. My son, Peter, was born on September 21st, 1940, during a German air raid on the area. That turned out to be quite a night and, after taking care of Doris, the doctor actually had to help extinguish some fire bombs on the way to give her mother the good news that all was well. Peter was named after Flying Officer Peter Scott, who was my co-pilot during my training at Montrose, and was also the Best Man at my wedding. I was then given a very welcome weeks compassionate leave to go home and see my son and my wife.

On my return to Elmdon I made three successive applications for a posting to the Elementary Flying School at Cambridge.  Shortly after I was sent for by the Station Commander and told that, if I really wanted a posting, he would give me one. But, meantime, he was going to put me up for a decoration but he wouldn't go ahead with that if I was going to be posted. I told him that I didn't want the decoration but only wanted to be stationed near my wife and son so that I could get home and see them. I was then posted to Cambridge and shortly afterwards was put in charge and promoted to Flight Lieutenant and told that I was to take over the command of a detached flight at Bottisham, a satellite of the main aerodrome at Cambridge (which was Marshal's at that time).

Number 5 Course

Instructors (Front Row L to R):
Rathbone, Higgins, Oliver, "Self", Kirchner, (C.I.) Tatnall, Hymans, Stanard, (C.G.I.) ?, Jamieson.
Porter's pupils were Delafield, Martin, Bramah, and Watts.
Derek Martin (fourth from the left, top row) resigned from the R.N. in 1966 as a Lt. Cdr. He was shot down over Norway and,
later in the war, was a P.O.W. at the same camp as me - Stalag Luft III, Sagan.  He now lives in Devon.  His uncle,
who Porter also met at Gravesend before the war, was his A.O.C. for a short while.

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