Mike Davies R.A.F/ Royal Fusiliers
Michael Davies was born in Kington, Herts in 1923 and in 1941, at the age of 18 he decided that he wanted to join the RAF and consequently, with the support of his mother who went with him to London, he went to Ad Astral House (the name of the RAF headquarters adapted from the motto ‘Per Ardua Ad Astra’ [Through Hardship to the Stars] which is on the R.A.F. crest) to volunteer for air crew. He was duly accepted in March 1942, passed his air crew medical and was selected to undertake a short course at Hertford College, Oxford. Consequently he studied Maths and Physics for two terms as part of the RAF, although he was also required to undertake air crew training each afternoon after lectures, and at the end of the two terms had to pass both the University examinations and the air crew training courses as well. He trained as a pilot in Worcester, and was then moved on to pilot/navigator bomb aimer training, which took place in Canada. Mike has an interesting account of the voyage to Halifax, Nova Scotia in March 1943, at the height of the German U-Boat campaign, in the troopship ‘Queen Elizabeth’ which took place at a speed (apparently) of 35 miles per hour.
At 6 feet 2 ½ inches tall, Mike was deemed 2 ½ inches too tall to go into the turrets and it was decided that he should train to be an R.A.F. meteorologist. He flew from Presque Isle, Maine U.S.A. to R.A.F. Lagens (now called Lajes) Terceira in the Azores. This was a naval base used in the Battle of the Atlantic against Admiral Doenetz’s wolf-pack U-Boats. The long runway was used by the coastal command ‘Liberator’ bombers on anti U-Boat patrols. It was also an important staging post for R.A.F. transport command. It was here, also, that ‘weather planes’ were sent to ‘look out for bad weather’ which was reported back to the UK; in fact a Spitfire was also flown up to 30,000 feet to check out the weather & the data (as well as from weather ships) was put into a teleprinter to be transmitted back to the UK
The Normandy Campaign
When the Normandy Invasion was being planned, the role of meteorologists (as long range weather-forecasters) had a vital impact. The key issue of when the invasion would take place was dependent on suitable weather conditions to launch the mass landing crafts across the channel. It is recorded history that the invasion date was delayed to accommodate the adverse weather conditions, and that the window of opportunity that was identified in June 1944 was crucial. In fact, Mike was stationed in the Azores from September 1944, but the role of other meteorologists played an essential role in the overall planning of the invasion.
Ironically, Mike completed the War not in the RAF but in the Army; early in 1945 he volunteered to transfer into the army and following a ‘grilling interview’ at the War Office Selection Board was selected to go to Sandhurst and on 7th June 1946 he joined the Royal Fusiliers. He sailed on the Medloc route from Toulon to Port Said on a troopship and served from 1946 in the Egyptian desert, in Cairo and from March 1947 in the Suez Canal zone at Fayid. In December 1946 he went to a dance in Cairo where he met his future wife, June, whose role in Normandy was that of army sister, nursing ‘in the field’. Mike’s account of June’s War, written for his children and grandchildren, is also stored on this website, and he joined the Stockport group as an associate member, through his wife’s involvement in the Normandy Campaign.
Mike and his wife were demobbed in September 1948 at Aldershot.