Reprimanded for stealing a Spitfire
Greggs Farish had a unique claim to fame for an incident that occurred during the Italian campaign. It is reported in another of our books Under the Red Eagle as follows:
When some Spitfires in the Anzio beachead were grounded for lack of spares, three attempts were made to fly in a stock but in each case the aircraft crashed due to foul flying conditions and an uncertain surface. The Engineering specialist – a "Flying Officer" in rank who had never in fact flown – took off in a Spitfire, landed safely and serviced the aircraft on the spot. Alarm ensued at his Wing and he was hauled back pronto. Having thus flouted all the Regulations he gathered together his engineering band and announced, "Flying a Spit is a doddle!"
A Court Martial now loomed, although opinion amongst the officers and men on 239 Wing was that he should get an immediate award. Not so. Later, in Administrative Routine Orders, we followed the further trail of the intrepid Engineering Officer:
Flying Officer Farish of 72 Squadron was on 15.3.44 found guilty by General Court Martial of:
(a) An act likely to cause damage to one of His Majesty’s aircraft in that not being a qualified pilot he improperly and without authority took off and flew a Spitfire.
(b) Conduct to the prejudice of good order and Air Force Discipline he flew the same aircraft without authority contrary to K.R. and A.C.I. para. 693.
It seemed hardly necessary to split the charge between "taking off" and actually "flying"!
In the event, he was sentenced to be severely reprimanded and to forfeit 12 months seniority as a Flying Officer. The finding and sentence were confirmed.
We on 239 Wing still thought he should have got a decoration and wondered whether we could get him posted to us? We would promote him!