Ted Wilcox

Ted (Squadron Leader) Wilcox was stationed at Shinfield Park from 1956-60.

Joan, his daughter, gave this information by email on 2 Mar 2015:

He joined the RAF as a pilot officer in early 1940. He was a rear gunner on Wellingtons and after he completed his 30 missions, he trained as an armaments officer. That’s what he did for most of the rest of his RAF career. However, I don’t think he can have been doing that at Shinfield.

I was interested to hear about John Dunsmore. Even if my father had not been formally associated with the drawing office, I am sure he would have struck up a friendship with John. You see, my father had been a draughtsman and later a commercial artist in the years before the war. So the drawing office would have seemed like home to him.

Joan also sent the following extract, as part of the above email, from a memoir she compiled for her parents:

Perhaps because we were removed from the camp (it abutted the married quarters, but it was not our focus) I don’t know much about what Ted did at Shinfield or whether he enjoyed his time there. 

He did go to Christmas Island: from 9–20 September 1958; he was part of the RAF Element (AWRE) Aldermaston, a supernumerary attached for temporary duty on Christmas Island. Britain undertook nuclear testing of hydrogen bombs in the fifties. Operation Grapple, and operations Grapple X, Grapple Y and Grapple Z, were held between 1956 and 1958 at Malden Island and Christmas Island in the central Pacific Ocean. Nine nuclear detonations took place during the trials, resulting in Britain becoming a thermonuclear power. All of the bombs were exploded in the air, rather than on the surface, to reduce the effects of fallout. Ted’s trip took place between ‘shots’ in Grapple Z: he was there in the run-up to the last ever of the atmospheric nuclear testing trials conducted by Britain, on 23 September 1958. He told me he traveled to Christmas Island sitting on a hydrogen bomb, but I daresay he wasn’t being serious. Or perhaps he was!

© Andre Francis 2018