Sunday, June 7, 2015

World War II Letters Home May 2, 1940 - Estelles Wickenkamp

                                                                                         8 Milton Avenue
                                                                                         King's Lynn
                                                                                         May 2, 1940

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Wickenkamp:

After all this time, just a mater of about 2 years I come about to writing to you.  I am, as you might imagine, completely at a loss as to what I have to tell you and the shock of late events leaves me feeling heavy of heart and mind.

I don't know quite what you would learn from official reports but I think you would like to know just what did happen and where it happened.  First, I'd like to tell you that this last action in which I saw Wick went to prove the gallant airman he was and his thoughts were for others even in such a time when so much was at stake for himself.

On Sunday afternoon,  April 7th, we were out patrolling the Danish Coast,  I suppose looking for German troop ships which were at that time transporting men and munitions for their entry into Denmark and Norway. About 10 miles west of the Danish Coast and the Skaggerack we encountered enemy fighters - German 110's, what they call the "destroyer".  At that time we were in 2 sections of Vic formation, flying as a flight - that is a Vic is 3 aircraft in that formation shaped as a V and there are 3 aircraft in a section, and 6 in a flight.  Wick and I flew in the same flight and even the same section after we were split up.  These 2 Vic sections were flying, one slightly higher and ahead of the other,  just a matter of 6 feet lower and the nose of the following aircraft just under the leader's tail.  Wick was flying in what we call 'No. 3' position and I was in No. 1. as I am now the Squadron Leaders 2nd pilot.  During the attacks we were all pretty badly shot up, unfortunately because the enemy aircraft carried cannons and machine guns against our machine guns and stayed mostly out of range but they still got a good peppering and one was set afire.

The petrol tanks in Wick's wings were badly punctured and the flames from the engine exhaust set them alight and he broke formation, but as the fabric of his right hand wing had been badly burnt he could only turn toward us, and if he'd done that and gone under us he'd have run into fellows following us on our underside.  His machine was badly damaged and still afire and there was little or no control in it and he couldn't help but swerve under us, and so in doing so he made use of his only controlling surface left and brought his craft around sharply in an effort t avoid colliding with the following aircraft and he succeeded but he missed them by such a small margin that some of their surfaces were charred by the spraying petrol.

A gallant deed by a man who was liked by all in our Squadron and one who is missed by us all and especially me as we've been together such a long time and done everything together.  There is one ray of hope, and I don't want to lay this falsely but the pilot who was with Wick at the time, they believe was picked up and taken prisoner.  At least, the Germans have since issued a statement that Pilot Officer Wardaw had been picked up.  There is no P.O. Wardaw in the service and only one P/O Wardlaw and he was with Wick.  These names of prisoners don't come through easily and so Wick just might be safe in Germany now.

I suppose you already know that Wick was commended for his bravery in his actions during that crash he was in at Marham during night flying, by the Air Officer commanding the R.A.F.  I have forgotten his name but I suppose you already know about that anyway.

I am addressing this to you, Mr.  Wickenkamp, because I fell I'd rather have you read it first and if you consider that it is alright for Mrs. Wickenkamp to read it as she might like to know first hand details, then I'll feel I've at least done one service for a fellow who was a real friend and pal of mine.

I must close now but not without first hoping everything goes well with you at home.  As Mrs. Wickenkamp has said in one of here letters to me -- this is from your other boy in the R.A.F. and I do hope to hear from you any time and I remain.

Yours Sincerely,

Doug W. Morris

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