1939 - 1942

Pooch, the white bullterrier mascot of considerable and tenacious powers, was owned in 1939 by F/LT Ernie McNab when he served with F/LT F.W.(Tommy) Thomas, who was a force boxing champion on No 73 Sqdn at Digby.

Ernie was a Canadian on exchange duties with the R.A.F. and when he returned to Canada in 1939 Tommy was delighted to purchase Pooch from him. Shortly after Tommy married he presented Pooch to his bride as a wedding present ! Understandably she was at first, frightened to death of him but quite quickly they became very attached. However, when Tommy was posted to 66 Sqdn at Duxford, Pooch was automaticaly included. Likewise on the 1st of October 1939 when Tommy went to the newly re-formed 152 Sqdn at Acklington, Pooch also followed thus commencing his long association with 152.

At the end of 1940, Tommy, promoted to S/LDR moved to Middle Wallop but realising Pooch’s life with a fighter Sqdn was unique, left him with 152 and F/O Graham (Cocky) Cox in particular. Cocky and Pooch became inseparable. Pooch’s temperament was that of all bullterriers and he made life miserable for anyone who showed the slightest fear. This was the complete opposite to his lastest master who was very popular and an amiable giant. Roger Burns the squadron parachute packer was very fearful of Pooch and the dog knew it , making Roger’s life a misery on his visits to dispersal to carry out his daily inspection of the parachutes. Given a length of rope Pooch would spend hours disputing possession with anyone who would take over the other end. He was even known to move the N.A.A.F.I. wagon, given a little encouragment. Another aspect of Pooch’s career, it was common knowledge that his offspring were too numerous to mention, but one thing is certain, none are registered at Crufts, at least if they are it is purely coincidental !

It is fact that he was with 152 Sqdn through to Cornwall, East Anglia, and Northern Ireland, but when Cocky Cox was posted away from 152 in 1942 he took Pooch with him, as it was then known that the Squadron would eventually be going overseas. Cocky would also be going overseas as it is known he commanded No 92 Sqdn in Italy.

The story of P/O Pooch now moves to 1945 after the war, but before doing, it must be mentioned that a trick, only to be performed by the bravest of the brave in Pooch’s presence was to cradle ones arms and call out “Kitty, Kitty “ where upon Pooch would go berserk !

The memoirs of S/LDR W.L.H.(Johnnie) Johnston who was a SGT, Pilot with 152 before moving to No 92 Sqdn in 1941. Pooch was just lovely and when the Sqdn (152) moved overseas, the dog couldn’t go and was taken over by another officer who I never met. At one stage the stupid dog chased a rabbit over a quarry and fell down a hole. After many operations he recovered and remained with his new owner. In 1945 I was at Biggin, and one night went out to what had been our local, just behind our dispersal, the pub, “The Old Jail”. In Sept 41 a SGT, now a S/LDR, the landlady said “usual Johnnie” and the other officers and Waafs looked suitably intriguied at the landlady’s greeting and amazed when I told the story. One Waaf asked what squadrons I’d been on and when I mentioned 152 she said “ Do you know that old Pooch is still alive and living in the village? The next day I went to see him. I got no reply to the front bell, but could hear children in the back garden, so pushed open a door to go in and stopped dead. Lying menacingly in the pathway was a dog not any dog, but a massive old pooch. He was on guard and started growling. Now bullterriers are born with a hatred of cats and we used to tease him by cradling our arms and saying “Kitty Cat”! So I did just that. He just took off and hit me in the chest and flattened me before trying to lick me to death. At that the lady of the house came through and thought he was killing me but soon realised he was beyond himself. She was very intrigued and I went back the next day to meet her husband who told me the story of the rabbit and Pooch’s awful injuries.

It is hoped that P/O Pooch ended his colourful life peacefully and if anyone knows more about him between 1942 - 45, it would be most interesting and if they compare with the previous years, surely Pooch deserves some sort of doggy decoration.

  Many Thanks to S/LDR W.L.H.Johnston & SGT Ray Johnson

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