I have been asked to give you a snapshot of life on the squadron in the late 1940’s. I joined 208 with Tim McElhaw in February 1947 when it was based at Ein Shemer on the coast of Palestine some 20 miles south of Haifa. At the time the squadron was filling up with post war trained pilots mostly on short service commissions. Apart from the CO and Flight Commanders we were all first tourists with an average age of 21, so FR experience was very limited but enthusiasm was high as most were looking for a PC and a career in the RAF. Before arriving we had been briefed that the security situation was a bit fraught and we were ordered to be armed at all times. The night before we arrived the airfield had been subjected to an ineffectual mortar attack but it did emphasise that there was a serious threat. As a result we never left the camp at night and during the day only on duty, to go swimming at the guarded beach or to play sport at another unit. We normally travelled in convoy of at least two vehicles—a bit like present day Basra with the same threat of roadside bombs - we had Arab batmen and mess staff but contact with the Jewish population was practically nil. You might think morale would have suffered living under these restrictions, but it didn’t – we had plenty to keep ourselves busy. Flying from 7am to 1pm, sports /swimming in the afternoon and quite a lively mess life in the evening, as you would expect from 2 Fighter Squadrons, a Lancaster Squadron (1) and a Regiment Armoured Car Squadron.
We were equipped initially with Mark 1X,s a bit of a come down as we had flown Mark X1V's at OTU’ but by April 1947 that had been rectified and we were given brand new Mark XV111’s (2). We carried out normal FR training plus bombing, gunnery and fighter affil but we did have two tasks which allowed us unlimited low flying. The first was a pipeline patrol from the Haifa almost to the Iraqi border, and the second to recce the entire length of the Palestine coast from Egypt to Lebanon, looking for any illegal immigrant ships which had eluded the Lancaster and Naval patrols – I think only one or two did!!