Remembered by: Philip Harvey
Date added: 11 Jul 2010
Squadron Leader R W 'Wally' Wallens DFC
'Robin' Hood was a charming fellow, a very experienced pilot, having flown in a fighter squadron before the war, and more latterly on the ghastly Wellingtons fitted with the sea-mine de-gaussing ring apparatus. When he came to 41 he was 'rusty', and was wise enough to let Flight Commanders and senior pilots lead the squadron in flights and sections without interference, taking a 'back seat' in formations until he had gained tactical experience, a decision greatly appreciated by us.
He was quiet, unassertive, with a gentle sense of humour, and the fighter pilots innate sense of caution, until the time came to 'throw it to the wind'. He was a great loss and sadly missed.
Unfortunately, war did not encourage close, new friendships, and made old ones difficult to bear when the chairs of those one had known for a long while remained vacant at the end of the day. From the early days, therefore, we made little attempt to exchange pleasantries of home and family, preferring the accepted badinage and horse-play, which suppressed feelings and eased the tensions of anticipation.
Flight Lieutenant Roy C Ford
I believe it was in August, 1940 during the Squadron's brief respite at Catterick before returning to Hornchurch, that I was authorised to perform low flying exercise in Spitfire J which I later understood to be the aircraft normally flown by F/O Scott who was on leave. Shortly after arriving at the low flying area, I spotted the Flying Scotsman heading North at speed on a straight stretch of railroad between Thirsk and Northallerton. The opportunity was too good to miss and at the high point or rather the low point of the ensuing beat up, I failed to notice high tension wires due to their being obscured by a tree immediately adjacent to the passing express. This unforeseen circumstance resulted in the aircraft slicing right through them, causing substantial damage to the Spit and no little concern to it's pilot.
Apart from putting a section of North Yorkshire out of lighting for a few hours, the accident placed me, quite justifiably, on the mat at a time when one Spit was considered the equal of three enemy aircraft. Accordingly, I was bought before my Commanding Officer on the following day to answer a charge that could well have led to my dismissal from the RAF. As it was, I was fortunate indeed to be disqualified from flying duties for just two days during which time I acted as Duty Pilot - day and night.
I had a genuine respect for Robin Hood not only for the very generous manner in which he treated me on that occasion but also for his other highly commendable qualities. He was certainly a popular C/O during his time with XLI and a gentleman in every sense of that word.