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David Starling

from:Whitby, Yorkshire

All my memories of RAF Snaith are boyhood ones gathered whilst holidaying with my grandparents at Pollington during the war years and after. My grandparents lived in the station master's house at Heck, until grandfather retired from the LNER in 1939. After retirement my grandparents moved to the last cottage in Berridge Lane,Pollington, at that time this was two cottages but is one today, the road ended at the Hull & Barnesly railway line.

I lived with my parents at Whitby where my father worked on the LNER Railway,we used to travel by train to York and then on to Heck ,my grandfather was always at the station to meet us and I would sit on a cushion tied to the crossbar whilst he rode back to Pollington, my parents walking.

I loved to see the planes at the "Drome" as everone called the airfield, as we approached the waterworks at the junction of Heck/Pollington Lane and Gowdall Lane there was a huge water tank which must have been seventy or eighty feet high just on the outside of the small plantation which surrounded the Water Works.

My father took me into the large waterworks building at times to see the huge beam engine pump slowly rocking up and down. During my holidays I always went to the dispersal point next to the water works on Gowdall Lane to look at the Bomber that was parked there,he was "F" for freddie and had lots of bomb symbols painted on his nose.

My granparents thought that the move from Heck to Pollington would take them away from the "Drome" but it simply took them from one end of it to the other. Every evening when the bombers took off the downdraft from their props blew the smoke down our chimney, whilst we sat around the fire in the light of the parrafin wick lamp. My visits here lasted all through the war until the late 1940's when grandmother died.

I remember there was also a POW camp in Pollington with both German and Italian POW's,they would work in the fields with the local women and girls picking peas and other crops. I think some stayed on after the war and married local girls.

The one thing that made a great impression on me was what happened to the "Drome" when the war ended. The RAF moved out and by 1946 all the accomodation buildings had been taken over by squatters. A lot of these people were returned servicemen whose homes had been bombed and had no where to live. Literally thousands of these squatters took over all the old bases and the authorities did nothing to remove them. It should be remembered a lot of these men had fought for five years, returned home to find that their homes had been blown apart along with some of their family also and that the government could not or would not provide them with a place to live. Even as a boy this shocked me,and squatters continued to live in the old huts for three or four years after the war ended.

I was last on the "Drome" in 1953. At that time the hangers were used by a packaging company making boxes. Light planes at times landed there. I climbed to the top of one of the blast banks and watched some light planes landing and taking off. The glory days of the "Drome" had sadly gone along with many brave fliers. I remember the day still when "F" for freddie was no longer at his dispersal,a very sad day for this small boy. By 1956 I was myself in the RAF serving my National Service, mostly spent in the Middle east,but that is another story..

Thanks for keeping the memories alive, those squatters looked down at at the time certainly deserved better treatment.

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