"It was while at the Llandbedr practice ranges that we heard of one chap who had nearly shot himself down. Flying at a dummy target he loosed off his non explosive practice rockets, unfortunately one of the projectiles ricochet up through his starboard wing as he passed on over the target."
The raid on the 24th May 1944 against a radar installation at Jourborg that cost F/O H. Freeman RCAF and P/O E. Vallely RAFVR their lives left this vivid memory on a survivor of it. "This is certainly one event that I shall never, ever, forget. We approached over Cherbourge no higher than 50 feet whilst Jerry threw even the kitchen sink at us. Nibbly, the first in, hit the screen at its base and I hit the building underneath with all eight rockets. Then violent avoiding action, as you might imagine. I saw the other two meet their end, one of them crashing spectacularly into the base of the huge mast. Bit of a shaker really, just two of us returning."
One member of 198's ground crews later recalled that some pilots were convinced that "today" was the day they would cop it so he, and other mechanics, would invent engine maladies. The same pilots would then fly the following day, having recovered from their temporary fear.
"It became the practice for the Pilots of 198 to file down the rivet heads on the leading edge of the wings as they were very prominent and would definitely interfere with airflow over the wing,. If this were done carefully and the whole aircraft regularly washed down with Glycol the performance could be improved by more than 10mph. This was almost certainly an illegal action and possibly a dangerous practice but if it gave the edge over the Goon it was considered worth it by the blokes on the receiving end. "
"On one sortie a flak shell hit and exploded inside the fuselage making a right mess of it, never really understood how the aircraft held together after that. Landing safely from my narrow squeak I intended taking a photograph of the damage but by the time I came back with a camera our ground crews had miraculously fixed it."
198 Squadron's mascot dog, (Tiffy) adopted when found abandoned on a captured airfield in Holland during 1945 didn't like German POWs. For some reason if one ever came near him he would bite them on the legs.
Comment by a 198 pilot. "Falaise Gap!, you could smell the death miles away."
"One morning I flew back home on leave and a new replacement pilot later took the aircraft straight back to the front line, subsequently I heard he was killed a few days later. We had a few pilots join 198 that I never met because they were shot down or killed like that."
"During the war it was claimed that the Hawker Typhoon's rocket projectiles could reach a top speed of 700mph after being fired. Believe me, I never hung around long enough to find out."
"Whilst the rockets were certainly effective firing them placed the pilot in considerable peril. You see he had to aim at his target and maintain his attitude until the rockets were clear of the aircraft. During this period he was very vulnerable to ground fire. Let me explain: The rockets were carried on two clips, one at the front and one at the rear, and it was these clips that slid along the rails when the rocket was fired. The front clips naturally came off the supporting rail first whilst the remaining clips remained on the rail for perhaps another second before it also cleared the rail. This meant that if there was even the slightest lateral or vertical movement in the aircraft’s attitude the rocket veered off course. Sometimes quite alarmingly. It was only after the rockets were completely clear that the pilot could veer off. Violently too, unless he wanted to hit himself with his own shrapnel. You had to practice quite a lot before you started to get any acceptable results. Rather like playing Pub Darts, with a three dimensional ockey!"
"I was called into the C/O's office one day and told I'd been recommended for the DFC. Never did get it, the brass hats up top said they had given out far too many already and I would have to settle for MID instead."
A Hawker Typhoon pilot's alleged comment on the aircraft. "Alright so it couldn't rocket its way to 50,000 feet but when the propellor stopped spinning it flew like a seven ton brick."
"I think it must have been just before D Day when we had a visit from General Eisenhower. It was the usual orange-box "gather round chaps" meeting that you might have expected from the military. Just as the visit was coming to an end the squadron had a sudden "show" and Eisenhower was present in the briefing-room. The target was a No-ball target, (V1 launch site) in France that we all knew was defunct. The briefing was crazy, no real detail, no safety courses home - in fact it was all wrong, especially as we were told to take off with the canopy hoods open so that the General could see us. We were about half way across the channel when we were ordered to return to base -- the General had gone!!!. I can tell you we were somewhat exasperated by the whole thing and wondered if the Americans considered all this to be just a game. Just the opposite effect to what the visit was supposed to generate."
"It always seemed a little odd to me that the Tiffy, (Hawker Typhoon) was only used operationally in Western Europe and nowhere else. I think we sent two or three to North Africa for tropical trials and that was it."
"After the intitial jubilation of VE Day I remember quite clearly the sudden sinking feeling as memory recalled those comrades and friends who didn't live to see it. It seemed such a lousy shame."
The wings of the Hawker Typhoon were so thick that a 35mm cine camera could be installed within the leading edge to record cannon and rocket attacks. The trouble was in some cases a pilot's natural reaction to pull back the stick and immediately climb after firing the rockets often led to a film full of sky.
"198 Squadron had an "in house" award known as a Strawberry. This more or less meant the C/O shook your hand and gave you a pat on the back for some activity you'd carried out."
It was said that the combined firing of all eight rockets from a Hawker Typhoon was so devastating on a target that it was like receiving a direct hit from a salvo of a naval cruiser's six inch guns.
"There are some things about the war I don't want to remember, not all memories are happy ones. These days it seems to me we wasted a lot of good men for nothing."
"In my opinion anyone who flew the Hawker Typhoon deserved a medal, it was not an aircraft I wanted to fly into battle." (Comment by an ex De Havilland Mosquito pilot)