After Alistair had completed his first tour with 76 Squadron (see : Alistair Wood: Part One, 76 Squadron, Main Force), as was customary he went to serve in a training unit. He went first to No 15 OTU, Harwell, Berkshire, and then on to No. 19 OTU, Kinloss, in his native Scotland. It is while he was at Kinloss that he was mentioned in a Despatch for distinguished service.
Alistair, whose rank is given as Sergeant above, had in fact been made an officer the previous year and had been awarded the DFC for distinguished service at the same time as his pilot Wilfred Elder received a Bar to his award. Both awards were gazetted on 16 November 1943:
Alistair was clearly highly thought of, and at the end of his Pathfinder tour in 1945, in the rank of Flight Lieutenant, he would receive a Bar to the DFC, the citation reading:
Throughout he has shown outstanding skill as a navigator, and the courage and determination he has displayed … have made him a valuable member of his squadron.
This, however, was in the future. He began his Pathfinder career at 1655 MTU, Warboys, on September 6 1944, teaming up nine days later with his long-term Mosquito pilot, Pilot Officer Hicklin. They joined 105 Squadron at Bourn on 22 October 1944. See: Alistair McKenzie Wood & 105 Squadron, Bourn
Alistair’s logbook entries detailing his Mosquito operations contain no dramatic incidents such as had troubled his first tour on Halifaxes. Straightforward details only are given, except on one very memorable page:
This is the first time we at the Archive have seen a logbook entry recording a Mosquito undertaking a ‘Cook’s Tour‘. Unlike those undertaken in the Lancasters which generally carried ground crew for this once-in-a-lifetime experience, it was just for two men – Alistair and his pilot, Hicklin. It must have been a wonderful experience for them both to travel over Europe in daylight without fear of danger, and it is easy to imagine them laughing and chatting until, perhaps, overawed for a while when viewing the apocalyptic devastation of Germany.
Hicklin, left; Alistair, right, with his usual spotted scarf.
With many thanks to Brian and Muriel Knights for all documents and photographs relating to Alistair’s flying career.