Dakota FZ692 'Kwicherbichen'
Pictured here on final approach to Blakehill, is C47 Dakota MkIII FZ692 Built by Douglas in the United States in 1943 it was delivered to the RAF in February 1944. The aircraft served with 233 Squadron at RAF Blakehill Farm until September 1944 when it was transferred to 437 Squadron RCAF. FZ692 was painted olive drab green all over and shortly before D-Day had the black and white ‘invasion stripes’ added for identification purposes. The stripes on the rear fuselage covered the ‘5T-UK’ squadron code letters so the aircraft’s individual letters ‘UK’ were transcribed onto the nose. (This is not, therefore, an indication of the aircraft or unit’s nationality!) FZ692 was named ‘Kwicherbichen’ and this was painted on the port side of the nose under the cockpit. Just behind the port cockpit window was a block of symbols detailing the ‘ops’ it had flown. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Dakota (ZA947) is painted to represent Kwicherbichen.
What is remarkable, is not only did FZ692 survive the war, but a refit of the air-frame uncovered some forgotten secrets.......
Until 2019, this C47 was still flying with Environment Canada wearing the civilian registration C-GRSB, housed at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum.
This is C-GRSB looked like - with modern instruments and measuring equipment in the rear fuselage.......
During maintenance work in 2015, the cladding was removed from the interior load compartment. Pictured here is what was found - original graffiti from soldiers who during WW2 had either been flown to the front line by FZ692 or flown back as casualties to the sick quarters at RAF Blakehill as part of experimental CASEVAC operations with the famous Flying Nightingale nurses.
Driver Pryer from Loders, Bridport - wounded in Germany 27th February 1945 - Blighty 4/4/15
** SEE UPDATE BELOW **
Trooper Wright 4693974 of 27 Well Lane, Chapel Allerton Leeds, Yorkshire
These images were then posted to Facebook via the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum asking for anyone who may be able to help in tracing these men, or provide any information of the wartime role of FZ692. The website author, who happened to be awake drinking beer at the time of the post, jumped at the chance to help. Although not able to trace any details of the men who left the graffiti, I was able to undertake a project on behalf of the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, bringing together some of the facts of RAF Blakehill, resulting in a 10,000 word essay and survey report which was sent in December 2015. What was truly staggering was that a few months afterwards, Hon Col Peter Porter of 437Sqn RCAF who flew FZ692 from Blakehill, visited the museum, having last visited RAF Blakehill to pay his respects on the 6th June 2008. Mr Porter visited his old aircraft and was shown the copy of my work. Here is Mr Porter with FZ692 and a copy of my original work in the loading door. The essay was called "From War To Wildlife" - the rest as they say, is history.........
8th February 2019
Information emerges regarding Driver Charles Stanley Pryer T/232160 of the RASC
Update regarding Dakota FZ692 Kwicherbichen - during works at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum in 2015, graffiti was found on the fuselage made by servicemen returning home from Europe - little was known who these chaps were, but thanks to a Facebook Page project contributor (Hugo), some information came to light regarding Dvr. Charles Stanley Pryer T/232160, he was born in Bridport, Dorset in 1908. We now know that he was in the RASC (Royal Army Service Corps) of the 6th Airborne Division - He was wounded on the 27th February 1945 and a copy of a casualty list has been provided.
Re-dedication from the
RCAF Husky Squadron July 2019
After going through a full overhaul, in 2019 FZ692 was repainted in her RAF Blakehill Farm colour scheme and rededicated by the RCAF at a ceremony held at the Canadian Heritage Warplane Museum.
Information released regarding Driver Charles Stanley Pryer "Whistling Stan"
FROM THE BLAKEHILL FARM FB PAGE 01/03/2021 - I have been sworn to secrecy regarding this for some weeks, but I can now release an important update regarding RAF Blakehill veteran C47 FZ692 “Kwicherbichen”from my contact Mike Tabone, who is a tour guide at the Canadian Warplane Heritage museum in Hamilton, Ontario.
I’m sure most of you know that Dakota FZ692 is housed at this museum. During a refit on FZ692 in 2015, scrawled graffiti was found on the airframe from WW2 when she was being used to bring back wounded soldiers from Normandy with the ‘Flying Nightingale’ Nurses. For many years the museum has been trying to track down details of the men who wrote the graffiti.
Today, Mike has released his story on how he has reached out to the family of Driver Charles Stanley Pryer, or ‘Whistling Stan’, the man who wrote the graffiti whilst horribly wounded with shrapnel. The emotion that Mike conveys in his article is something to which I can certainly relate.
This is another chapter added to the history of the aircraft that operated from this small Wiltshire field and the men who came back under the care of the Flying Nightingales - all are heroes and will never be forgotten.
My only wish is to one day meet Mike, and the iconic "Kwicherbichen”