Mutiny in the RAF: the air force strikes of 1946 - David Duncan


Aug 25 2015 18:16

Interesting short account of one of the strikes by a participant on the BBC:

Frank Wyle wrote:
I was a Wireless Operator (ground) in The RAF serving my country in the Far East at RAF Mauripur which was part of Karachi and is now Karachi Airport. I had been there since 1943 and the feeling amongst the lower ranks in January 1946 was of resentment at the passage through our station of airman and others for de-mob, many of whom had been there for three years or more and according to the rule sand regulations had another year to do as the terms of service were three and a half years for married men and four years for single men. This caused resentment at Mauripur and other places and anger that so many of us lower ranks had been out East since 1942/3 and the war was now over.
One day small notices were posted around the camp calling a meeting of all lower ranks in the cook house to decide if action should be taken to change the system which existed and bring to the notice of higher authorities the feelings of the lower ranks i.e. corporals and below. All the lower ranks off duty were persuaded to go to the meeting which was held in complete darkness so that the speakers could not be identified. The result of the talk was a decision to refuse work and to go on STRIKE as from 0800 hours the next day 22nd January 1946.
Regarding the signals section, this was on a three watch system over every 24 hours, and was in contact by Morse code with places like Cairo and further East in the S.E.A command. We were on a system which did not allow us much free time and we thought with the number available a four watch system would be practical and advantageous to us. All the wireless operators got together to discuss this and myself and two other LACs who were in charge of the three watches were appointed spokespersons as we were to strike, the signals officer arranged to see us and our proposal for four watchers was accepted.
The strike had its repercussions as the Special I Branch came to the camp to investigate what had happened when things were back to normal. At the time I was on leave in Kashmir with two friends — Neville Adams and Malcolm Brooksbank. When we returned to Mauripur, Neville was sent for and interviewed by the S.I.B even when he was at Bombay on his way home for demob. He underwent further interviews and his return to Blighty was delayed. I myself was interviewed by them on the camp and as I was involved with the discussions with the signals Officer they saw this as a suspicious act and told me so!