Personnel Index - Detail
Awarded DFC and AFC.
Image courtesy of www.fiskertonairfield.org.uk
Shortly after midnight F/O Tebbenham, the station meteorological officer chats with F/O F. Wittmer, navigator, an Australian from Melbourne who has just completed his tour of 30 operations, including five to Berlin.
From L to R - F/O Tebbenham, F/O Wittmer, F/L Hidderley, G/C Grindell
Fiskerton was commanded by G/Cpt Grindell RNZAF, DFC,AFC, who was definitely the Station Commander around the base but given the slightest opportunity was inclined to 'live it up' in the Mess, and Christmas, 1943 proved to be one of those opportunities. Several stories abound about the antics of this somewhat 'eccentric' G/Cpt from New Zealand.
Often mentioned was the use of his service revolver, which was always by his side and on every occasion would be used to shoot rabbits... often through his office window! As G/Cpt, he was not allowed to fly ops without special permission from Group, and indeed a study of the Operational Record Book does not reveal his name - but talk to some of the 'old lags', and they will tell of sightings of the 'Groupie' wearing a Sgt's Battle Dress Blouse in the Mess or locker rooms just before an operation.
With the combination of warmer spring weather and lighter nights, crews would sometimes spend their last moments on the ground outside their aircraft, prior to starting up for take-off. During this time, G/Cpt Grindell, the Station Commander, would take the opportunity of driving his car around the perimeter track and on passing each dispersal would wave and shout words of encouragement to the 'troops'. His clockwise journey took him firstly through 'A' flt then around onto the northern perimeter and 'B' flt., finally arriving at the main runway threshold, before parking near the control caravan; here he would park up, and wave to each Lancaster crew as they took off.
One evening, as dusk quietly descended upon Fiskerton airfield, Groupie's 'battle wagon' was heard approaching over the rise towards 'A flt's dispersals. Under the nose of their Lancaster, P/O Bob Montgomery and crew waited with baited anticipation. It must be mentioned that the Montgomery crew were not noted for their adherence to military regulations in either discipline or dress. As the G/Cpt's car drew nearer, Bob Montgomery, much to the puzzlement (and amazement) of the watching groundcrew, ordered his crew to line up and then brought them smartly to attention. As G/Cpt Grindell drove past their dispersal giving his cursory salutation, all seven members of the Montgomery crew, in unison bent forward, each giving the Group Captain a 'Churchillian' gesture.
Stunned and somewhat bemused, the G/Cpt's car swerved slightly before proceeding on around the perimeter. After his departure, both air and groundcrew fell about in fits of laughter. Their sounds of mirth mingled with the roar of many Merlins being readied, and the crew were still laughing as they clambered aboard their trusty Lanc... and went off to war. There can be little doubt that G/Cpt Grindell, on later reflection, viewed the whole incident in a jocular vein as was intended.