WW II ;rough the
Eyes of Youth
Growing up with war as a playmate
TEXT AND ILLUSTRATIONS BY JIM NE WMAN
My father was a career RAF man, eventually serving 32 years with five of them being in the Mideast from 1925, followed by four years in Burma nd “Injah” during the Second World
War. As a result, I was born and raised on and around
RAF stations for most of my life. As you might imagine,
I came to know every nut, bolt, rivet, and line of both
friendly and enemy aircraft. Drawing bowls of apples or
scarves draped over a chair was not for me. Drawing aeroplanes was quite a
natural ability for myself.
In 1939, we were living near Peterborough (on RAF Upwood), but when war
was declared in September, we had a mere 24 hours to move o; base. Until
late 1943, we then lived at Skegness on the north edge of that square bay
(;e Wash), so well known to King John who lost his jewels in it (so ’tis said)!
It looks as if at nine years of age I was ready to join the RAF
Editor’s note: One of
the privileges of being
Flight Journal’s Editor-in-Chief is that I’m part
of a literal river of communication that flows
between those of us
who value history and
the written word. Some
of those missives are
best hidden from polite
society, but some must
be shared because of the
unique insights offered.
Such is the email on
these pages that I received from a name well
known to old Model
Airplane News readers,
Jim Newman, he of the
magic sketching pen.
This is his response to
my commenting that I
was jealous of his closeness to the RAF while
growing up. I thought
our readers would enjoy
his unique perspective.
;e modeler/airplane bu; in me goes to work
Back to Dad’s office—one of his jobs was to teach rookies
(mostly aircrew trainees) aircraft recognition. However, Dad was
not really an “airplane man” and could only read the names off
the back of the projected flash cards. Most of the time I just sat
there “as good as gold,” but soon I began to interject my own
“clues” gleaned from reading the official handouts.
Dad would project the Ju 88 and I would pipe up, “… and
it has two large engines that stick out ahead of the nose. Don’t
mix it up with the new Beaufighter that also has two big en-
One afternoon, Dad’s flight sergeant nudged my father and
nodded towards the rear of the darkened room. There stood the
commanding officer in the shadows.
Once everyone had filed out, the CO came over and asked, “Who is this, then, Mr. Newman?”
Of course, I was introduced and the CO suggested then that, if I ran the projector and cards, I
could free up my busy father for other tasks! So this became my “homework” every day.