Aerobatics

By kind permission of John King, Author

In the meantime, activity continued at Grove Park’s aerodrome. On occasions aircraft were parked over-night on the ELG and it was then that the local boys would vie with one another in their attempts to inveigle the pilot to come to their house for tea or even stay the night. On one occasion the pilot was literally shared among three families between dinner, bed and breakfast. Several of the pilots gave exhibitions of their aerobatic skills. A favourite trick of Camel pilots was to dumb up to about 2,000 feet and dive on the onlookers, pulling out at not more than fifty feet into a loop. On one occasion a Bristol Fighter started to take off with little over a hundred yards run. The machine was heading straight for the huts until the pilot literally yanked it clear at the last moment — the tailskid missed the roof by a hairsbreadth.

By this time the landing ground had come under the control of another home defence squadron, No.78, another unit which was also based at Sutton’s Farm.

There was the death in April in France of a parishioner of St Augustine’s. It was Lieut Geoffrey Allen who had enlisted in 1914. He died in the 3rd Canadian Hospital after being wounded on 5 April.

On the last Sunday in the month the Lewisham Cadet Battalion with its honorary Colonel W H Le May attended the morning service at St Mildred’s. Before the war Le May had been responsible for raising the cadet battalion to ê Position of strength and it was now associated with the 20th London Regiment.

There was a further reminder that life in the ASC was not soft when Brigadier-General R 0 Burne presented Military Medals for valour to three men after Church Parade at St Augustine’s on 26 May. One recipient was Sgt Wilson for continuing to drive an ambulance under ‘withering fire’ until he had safely removed wounded men. No doubt Wilson had earlier been trained at Grove Park.

The Canadian Forestry Corps — the Technical Warehouse & Mechanical Branch — was obviously still in the area, because a newspaper recorded their athletics day at the Private Banks sportsground at Catford on 1st June 1918. The exact nature of the work they were doing was not indicated.

Back to Grove Park in the First World War


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