The Biggs' Boys
By Ken Stofer
Copyright 2001-2007 Ken Stofer, All Rights Reserved
The armourer employed on a heavy bomber squadron that was engaged on continual operations, was perhaps the hardest working man in the R.A.F. Not only did he have considerable manual labour in bombing up, but he also had gun turrets to maintain, which alone were a full-time job in certain circumstances; then there was the bombing gear to be checked daily. He also closely co-operated with the electricians. All the guns had to be checked over to see if the air gunner had missed anything. The signal pistol and all pyrotechnics had to be examined, together with all detachable equipment such as certain types of bomb carriers, bomb winches and reserve ammunition.
On a fighter squadron an armourer didn't have the heavy work of bomb-hauling, but to offset that he had to get moving very quickly very often.
The bomb armourer appeared to be slow compared with the fighter lads, but such things as transport hitches could have a much more adverse effect. It was comparatively easy for a man to run to the ready-use ammunition store and fetch a thousand rounds, but who was going to volunteer to dash to the bomb store, take a 500-pounder under each arm and double back to the waiting aircraft?
There was yet another species of armourer who spent his time in Station Armoury with no last-minute rushes, no humbugging about, no satisfaction of really "doing something." His job was just a monotonous round of fusing bombs, filling belts and magazines, cleaning and checking guns and equipment held in store, or for range use; supervising gunnery, rifle and revolver work on the range, plotting practice bombing on the charts and ensuring that explosive storage conditions were all that they should be.
Those outside of the select and honoured profession didn't realize nor appreciate the tremendous amount of knowledge required by the armourers to be as highly efficient as they were.
Copyright 2007 Ken Stofer, All Rights Reserved
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