Bill Monaghan and Frank Cook - Flying Meteors in Korea
Bill Monaghan and Frank Cook talk about flying meteors in Korea
BM: We were on what was called interdiction - interdicting the enemy supply lines and depots and things like that north of the border to stop the ammunition really getting to the front line and shooting at our troops. That was our contribution, was to try and stop the supply to the frontline troops, the enemy's frontline troops. We were lucky that the Sabres [US fighter jets] had established air superiority, so we didn't see much of the MiGs [Soviet fighter jets]. You'd see contrails occasionally but then the Americans would go up with their Sabres and take them on. So we were free to do our ground attack, which was bad enough, there was plenty of flak around.
Then one day I got three hits in the starboard engine. After I recovered and got my breath back, I was Tail End Charlie [last aircraft in the formation] so the boys at the front had already gone through and they were specks disappearing in the distance and here is me struggling along at about 100 feet. So I called them up and told them calmly that I was in trouble, like screaming my head off. The leader came back and inspected me and said "Well, you're not too damaged underneath, we think your wheels will come down if you can get where you can land". I couldn't get back to base in that condition, so I headed for the coast, found Paengnyong-do which had a nice, reasonably long beach and landed on the beach. I got out very relieved. The island was held by the United States marines and a company of British navy and they looked after me until the Dakota [transport plane] came the next day with a ground crew and a new engine.
I went back on the Dakota to Kimpo and then went and saw the CO [commanding officer] that night, because I thought that surely they'll send a more experienced pilot to pick it up, and I begged with him to let me go and get the aeroplane and finish the mission. Which he did. So I went back, picked the aeroplane up and brought it home. As I said earlier, the aeroplane was completely overhauled and then put back on operations. An American - sorry, an English pilot called Coleman was flying it the very next mission and got shot down again. The Engineer Officer never forgave me because he wasted a new engine and a lot of man hours fixing it up the first time. He said to me "You should have jumped out the first time!" I said "No thanks!".