Personal Testimony of REM(A) Roger Mills.1964 - 1974. Submitted November 2008.
The following poignant narrative describes attending the crash sites and the feelings of those involved in Rescue and Recovery . Roger was on Line Duty at RNAS Yeovilton and also worked in the Control Tower.
HMS Heron. (RNAS Yeovilton) Volunteer Band. Displaying Drums. 2008.
Something I wanted you to know. I had to go, with a load of other ground crew, to guard the site of ID 31 until the morning when MARTSU could get there.The memory has never left me; a huge crater full of OM 15 (Oil) and AVCAT(Fuel), with the ends of the tail-booms on the edge.. nothing else. It happened without any of
us on the squadron knowing about it, no bang, no sirens. We heard and knew nothing until a coach arrived on the hard-standing and someone came to the line-shack saying there had been a crash and anyone not actually working on a/c at that time get on the bus "at the rush", so we did. Also, I went to the funeral, which was very moving. You see, I was in the station "bluejacket (volunteer) band", and we had to learn how to muffle drums, rehearse with the guard, who had to learn "reverse arms" drill etc. We marched, very slowly, on the day, down the short runway playing the "Dead March From Saul", through the crash-gate, then down to the church --- I remember seeing the families, wives, children, parents, we all cried a little (tried not to show it !), and the volley of shots over the grave, the "last post"----one sees it in films, etc, but when one is actually there, it is an INCREDIBLE (and indelible) experience. I don't know if the aircrew, and officers generally, realised this, but we all, ALL of us, felt the loss of Vixen aircrew very much -- it was somehow like losing members of a family, even if you never really knew them that well, if at all.
I was also very aware of ID 32... A bunch of us were standing out on the hard-standing with ladders and chocks etc... chatting & waiting for the detail to return, when there was an audible "crump" and the ground literally shook. WREN air mechanic Daphne xxxx immediately burst into tears and said " It's my cab,I just know it is " ( It was). The thing is, it wasn't raining where we were at all, let alone heavily... we'd have been in the line-shack if it was. It must have been heavy rain only just up the valley. How sad.
In fact, not long after ID 32, I was transferred to Tower Radar, and so was in the tower at the time of ID33----the feeling of sorrow and loss was almost tangible. A good many Wrens were visibly shaken and in tears. One, Leading Wren Sue xxx, was there. I know that the Wren Judy xxx who looked after the tapes of all air/ground transmissions was very upset. It affected us all, really. Quite cathartic now though -- this stuff's been bottled up in me for years, I guess.
The Sea Vixen Accidents can be viewed from the following link.