The Biggs' Boys

(hosted Online by the Justin Museum of Military History)

By Ken Stofer

Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007 Ken Stofer, All Rights Reserved

Biography of William Henry Muncy

Wing Commander, Pilot, No. 43 Squadron RAF, RCAF

          I think it was my friend Frank Speed who told me about Capt. Seymour-Biggs.  Frank went to England and joined the R.A.F shortly before I did.  I was living at 3018 Blackwood Street, Victoria, British Columbia at the time.


          The Captain arranged for me to complete an application for enlistment in the B.C. Police and to have an interview with the assistant commissioner who recommended me.  The Captain also arranged a medical examination for me, the results of which were recorded on the same form.  I still have this document.


          I was 21 years of age when I left in the summer of 1938.  My friend John Moloney and I traveled to New York City by bus.  I recall the bus fare was $38.  We sailed on the S.S. Georgic paying our own fares. 


          We arrived in Southampton July 1938, where we were met by an R.A.F officer who handed us letters, (I still have mine),  asking us to communicate with Adastral House in writing as soon as possible.  This was a shock as Moloney and I were almost out of money and could not afford to live while we carried on correspondence with the Air Ministry.


          We went up to London to a recruiting centre and joined in the ranks immediately.  I recall that I had three and a half pence (about 10 cents) when I signed up.


          From the recruiting centre we were sent to R.A.F. Station Cardington and spent three months square-bashing.  Discipline was very strict and it was hard work.  We had very little free time, as every evening was spent polishing brass and blanco-ing webbing.  Not that free time would have meant much, as on two shillings a day one could not afford to do much away from the station.  I remember having the odd beer in the NAAFI at four pence per pint.  Woodbine cigarettes could be purchased in packets of five for two pence.  That was about all we could afford.


          After graduating from Cardington my friend and I were transferred to R.A.F. Station Manby, which was the R.A.F. Air Armament School.  We spent six months training as armourers, both of us graduating with marks over 80%.  As a result we were recommended for pilot training.


          From Manby I was sent to join the armament section of #43 Squadron then based at Tangmere.  My friend John Moloney also went to Tangmere to join #1 Squadron.  This was in April, 1939.  On the outbreak of war #1 Squadron was sent to France and this was the last time John and I served together. 


          My squadron #43 was transferred to Acklington in Northumberland in November, 1939.  The only outstanding incident I remember from this sojourn was the shooting down of a Heinkel 111 by my flight commander Peter Townsend.  It was, I believe, the first aircraft shot down over Britain.  Peter Townsend will of course be remembered for his association with Princess Margaret.


          In February, 1940 my squadron was again moved to R.A.F. Station Wick, at the northern tip of Scotland, an area remarkable for its bleakness.  We were here to provide air protection for the naval base at Scapa Flow.  Again I recall only one outstanding incident. 


         On this occasion a section of the squadron was scrambled to intercept an aircraft approaching Scapa Flow, which they did.  We were shortly thereafter treated to the spectacle of an aircraft with German markings making a wheels-up landing on our airfield.  As this was the first intimation we of the ground crew had of the action it was a surprise to say the least.  The Germans of course did not offer any further resistance, but if they had done so it would certainly have been interesting, because at that stage of the war we had no airfield defenses and I don't think there was even a rifle around the flight line.


          In April, 1940 I was posted away from the squadron and this ended my close association with flying for the time being.  I was given further training to upgrade my qualifications to fitter armourer and senior armament instructor.   I was promoted to sergeant and spent the time as technical instructor until my pilot training commenced in December, 1941.


          After going through another square-bashing course in Newquay, Cornwall, called the Initial Training Wing, I went through what the R.A.F. called a grading course at 8 EFTS, Woodley.  Here they gave you 12 hours on a Mile Magister and made the decision as to whether you would be trained as a pilot.  What it really amounted to was that if you managed to go solo you had it made for pilot training.  If not you ended up in one of the other aircrew trades.  Fortunately I made the grade and was sent to Canada for pilot training.


          We embarked on a little troopship called the Letitia, in July, 1942.  Although this was at the height of the Battle of the Atlantic, the trip was uneventful.  Possibly this was owing to the fact that our little ship had an escort of three destroyers all the way across.  They must have thought we were valuable cargo.


          After spending a year in Canada at various stations undergoing pilot training I was returned to England in the summer of 1943, sailing from Halifax on the Queen Elizabeth.  Although I was by then an officer, and supposed to be in first class accommodation,  I recall we were 18 to a cabin in 3-tiered bunks.  Again it was an uneventful journey, although the Captain was very upset as we approached the coast of Ireland, because none of the lookouts had seen an approaching aircraft which fortunately turned out to be friendly.  The captain made his views known throughout the ship in no uncertain terms.  You can hardly blame him as he had 13,000 passengers in his care.  We were indeed fortunate the Germans never managed to attack the Q.E. or the Queen Mary, when loaded with troops. 


          On returning to England I underwent yet another disciplinary course at the Air Crew Officers School in Sidmouth.  The R.A.F. must have decided that we aircrew were a scruffy lot that needed smartening up. 


          Following this came yet another flying course at an Advanced Flying Unit, (Little Rissington).  This was really just another SFTS. I think that by this time the R.A.F. was no longer desperately short of pilots and decided to opt for better training, particularly in flying over wartime England at night.  After being trained under ideal conditions in Canada perhaps it was necessary.


          Following this I was sent to Dumfries as a staff pilot where I spent the next year flying navigators under training all over the country. 


         This brought me to the end of the war in May, 1945.  During this year I did manage to get over to 8 Group and do a trip to Dartmouth as second pilot on a Lancaster.


          Owing to my long service overseas I was repatriated to Canada fairly early.  My transfer to the RCAF took place in February, 1945.


          I remained in the RCAF until the summer of 1965, my retirement becoming effective in Feb. 1966.  I retired a Wing Commander.


----- William Henry Muncy

Copyright 2007 Ken Stofer, All Rights Reserved


Back to Justin-Kossor Air Force Biographies Page

Back to the Bigg’s Boy Table of Contents

Please Share your Stories! E-mail the Curator to share or discuss or with any questions!

1 1