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The Bristol Aeroplane Company Trophy

During 1944 the Halifax force in Bomber Command underwent a transformation. The Rolls-Royce Merlin engined MKII's and V's were phased out to be replaced by the more powerful Bristol Hercules radial engined MkIII's.

To commemorate this event the Bristol Aeroplane Company offered a prize to the Squadron in No4 group with the best engine service. To illustrate the skill of the Ground Personnel of 578 Squadron, and their loyalty to their Squadron Commander Wing Commander Wilkerson they proved that they were up to the challenge and won the trophy. It is now on display in Burn Methodist Church.

578 Ground Personnel hard at work on Halifax "D"

Airframe fitter Corporal Ted Bland takes up the story:

I remember on one occasion at a welfare meeting I asked if it would be possible to permit some ground staff, due for weekend leave and who lived more than two hundred miles from Burn, to have a 'pass' covering them from Friday noon to 0800 on Monday because of the difficulty in making train connections.
After discussion, a consensus of opinion and a promise from me that aircraft servicing would not suffer, come what may, 'Wilkie' agreed saying, "I would like to have the prize being offered by the Bristol Aeroplane Company to the squadron with the best engine servicing record in 4 Group". I related this to all ground staff and they agreed to a man to try and win it just for him. Shortly after the war, the Bristol Aeroplane Company presented 578 Burn Association with a retrospective Commemorative Shield, beautifully hand carved in Walnut, in recognition of the high regard it had for the way in which we had maintained the Hercules engines fitted to 578 Squadron aircraft. This shield is now on display at the Burn Methodist Church .

It is sad that 'Wilkie' our revered Squadron Commander was not able to accept the honour personally, as we would have wished.

Bristol Trophy