Extracts of e-mails from 'Mr. John Walker' including Photo's.

In Memoriam! :-

On the 1st of February 2009, John Walker (junior) sent me an Email containing the very sad news that his father had earlier passed away: -

Hi Mike, I thought you would like to know my father John Walker passed away on 15th January. He fell on Christmas Eve after placing flowers on my nephew's grave. He broke his right femur. He underwent an operation on Christmas Day and was making a slow recovery. However three weeks later he developed pneumonia and within four days he died. He was 90 years old and had a flying lesson for his birthday. His instructor told him he was their oldest student and that earlier that day they had had an ex-Lancaster pilot in for a lesson, but he was a mere 86 yrs old! Dad was looking forward to a flight in a helicopter this year but alas he will not be able to make it. He remained independent right up to his accident, living alone and tending for himself. He was still driving and enjoyed his car. After his flying lesson he gave me his RAF flying helmet, goggles and leather gloves. Later I found his old RAF Swagger Stick. He was not allowed out of camp without it. I miss him greatly, but I suppose I have been lucky in having him for so long. It is only now I can find time to write a few letters.
Best Wishes, John Walker.

In May 2007, Mr. John Walker contacted me, and here are a few edited extracts regarding his fathers history with No' 70 Squadron at RAF Habbaniya: -

My father was I believe the engine fitter aboard a Vickers Valentia which flew out of Bahrain in late September,1939. My father is now aged 88 years but in quite good health. The story he relates goes something like this - the pilot and co-pilot were still tipsy after celebrating the previous night. Besides them only my father and a rigger were on board. The pilot observed an Arab dhow sailing below them and decided to have a little fun and frighten the Arab by flying low over the boat. Unfortunately he flew too low and struck the mast of the dhow, ripping it off as it became embedded in the lower wing. This caused the undercarriage to dip into the sea. The pilot however miraculously succeeded in lifting the plane off the water and made an emergency landing nearby. The two pilots, rigger and dad were then stranded at Bahrain for the next five weeks whilst a new wing was obtained and transported there. In the meantime they were entertained by the local Arab chieftain who allowed them the use of his swimming pool on a daily basis, and also by the BP Oil Co. which gave them use of their club and facilities. Dad was delighted as this meant he spent his 21st birthday - 2nd,October,1939, on Bahrain Island where he enjoyed a five week holiday!
Dad was attached to 'C' flight, 70 Squadron, Habbaniya, at this time. He was interested in photography and photographed the pilot with the ditched plane. From the photo of Squadron Leader Skeet on your website I believe he is the same man. Dad does not remember his name, nor that of the other men on board. He took other photos, one of which is the pilot examining the damage to the wing, but with his back to the camera however I believe it to be the pilot, and another photo of the mast actually embedded in the wing. Dad is adamant they were the only RAF personnel on Bahrain island at this time. From what I have read of your father's history, he must have been the pilot of this plane. Are you aware of this incident?
Amongst the list of RAF personnel at Habbaniya during the Iraqi uprising is one G.Pinnick. Dad knew George very well and has several photos of him and other members of 'c' flight, besides several photos of Valentias, other planes and of the camp. One of his most vivid memories which occured just after he arrived there was seeing a Fox Hunt which is referred to on your website. He has many fond memories of Habbaniya and would be willing to share them with you. My father's name is John Walker but he has always been known as Jack. My name is also John Walker.

Michael, just a short note. If you should want to ask my father anything please feel free to do so. After he spoke to you Dad looked at the Operational Order for the trip to Bahrain and remembered Sgt. Hardisty and LAC Taylor. He was surprised to see Taylor was an LAC because he said he had to be told off by Sgt..Hardisty for wanting to hammer a bolt into the new wing, something one never does on an airplane. Dad says he was a bit of a fool because on another occasion Taylor tried to open a hangar door at Habbaniya which had become stuck, by driving a tractor into it. Needless to say he broke the tractor as the hangar doors were very heavy.
The two photos of the Valentia tarted up for Royalty, were taken by Dad to show the expense to which the RAF would go to for the Royal Family. On this occasion a Duchess and her entourage flew to Iran for the Shah's wedding. I don't suppose many photos were taken inside a Valentia, especially the cockpit. I am rambling on a bit as I remember what he spoke of after your conversation. He remembered Squadron Leader Simmonds whose name was on the Order. As a matter of fact he said Simmonds fined all the ground crew at Habbaniya 1/6d each because all the emergency tinned fruit rations had been allegedly stolen off the planes. These were small tins the size of a tin of condensed milk. The ground crews were suspected because the food rations did not contain tinned fruit, although they had five course meals. This was in spite of the fact that in emergencies when aircraft were disabled and losing height anything and everything would be thrown out including guns and ammunition and aircraft would return absolutely empty other than the crew. Sometimes even new aircraft being delivered from Malta if in difficulties would throw everything out. Dad was very irate by Simmonds's action and a short while later Simmonds acquired a Lysander airplane, which Dad says were only used by the army at that time. The plane could not be flown without the pilot's seat which was actually the parachute, so Dad stole it and tore it up. There was hell to play at the base and all the billets were searched, yet nothing was found. The Arabs took the blame for it's disappearance! Many months later Dad flew with Squadron Leader Simmonds in a Bristol Bombay to Greece. 
Dad believes one of the two pilots on the Bahrain flight, was later responsible for sinking the first Italian battleship during the war by dropping a bomb down the funnel, but he does not know which one did it. Getting Dad to remember things is becoming more difficult, but should he remember more about your father I will let you know.
Regards, John Walker. 

Here are some edited photo's from the selection John Walker kindly sent to me.: -

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