In 1938, with war clouds looming, Peter Rivington volunteered to join the RAF and in this entertaining memoir he describes his subsequent wartime and postwar flying exploits at the controls of a wide variety of aircraft.
His operational duties commenced in the UK with Coastal Command on anti-submarine patrols and convoy escorts, but he soon found himself en route to an overseas posting, ‘destination unknown’. In mid-ocean his troopship, Anselm, was torpedoed and he had to swim for his life. He was one of the few lucky ones to be rescued and eventually arrived at his destination, Takoradi in Ghana, West Africa.
This port played a significant role in the North African campaign, for it was here that aircraft arrived by sea from Britain, packed in crates, to be reassembled and flown in convoy to Egypt for operational use with the Desert Air Force, thus avoiding a long and dangerous sea journey round the Cape.
Thousands of aircraft were delivered in this way but the ferry route across the heart of Africa was hazardous and convoys seldom travelled it without incident. Peter made this trip numerous times, flying a variety of aircraft types.
Later, he performed similar duties in India, ferrying aircraft destined for the Burma front, until being reassigned as a flying instructor for the Indian Air Force at Secunderabad, a role he continued to perform until the end of the war.
Like many pilots, Peter continued flying after the war, initially for small civilian operators and later for Flight Refuelling Ltd. During the Berlin Airlift he faced many hazards once again, flying Lancastrian tankers into Germany during the Russian blockade.
He later joined aircraft manufacturers Short Brothers, ferrying navy aircraft between bases in the UK and abroad and training Royal Navy pilots in the arts of flying and navigation until retiring from flying in 1962.
Liberally sprinkled with amusing anecdotes, Peter's recollections of his long and varied flying career contain much to entertain any aviation enthusiast.