De Havilland Vampire Nero DH-109 D7D 912A/772C
Olympic Stadium, Berlin 26th May 1956
England v. Germany
Together with friends Sgt. Bill Penman, an MP, and Ken Dunn, they 'acquired' some of the 100/130 octane aircraft fuel stored at the back of airfield. The 'cheap' fuel helped make possible an otherwise expensive 1200 mile road trip to Berlin to watch the England v. Germany soccer match.
After a short time back in UK Roland earned his Sgt stripes and was posted to Aden with 5004 Airfield Construction Squadron where he earned the British Empire Medal. He retired early from the RAF and emigrated to Australia where he carried on several businesses.
Roland died in Perth, Western Australia in 2000 during surgery whilst undergoing his second heart bypass operation. He was a young, and still joking, seventy-three.
His wife, Joan, still lives in South Yunderup, Western Australia. Roland's faithful Golden Retriever, Daisy, seems to know he's not coming home but at a frail 14 years old she will soon be by his side once again.
Update: Early in December 2005 Daisy became too weak to move and was put to sleep peacefully by the vet.
Roland on his Triumph 550cc side-valve at RAF Coltishall immediately before being posted to RAF Schleswigland.
He made many friends and most notably Ken Dunn, Bill Penman, Jim Graves & Mick Doubleday. Roly would go rifle shooting with Ken Dunn. It was in Germany too that Roly met Van Geldrun, famous for winning the Queen's Prize for shooting at Bisley. Back in england some years later Roland introduced his son, Peter, to Van Geldrun, and this sparked Peter's interest in guns and shooting.
Always fond of aircraft, Roland scrounged a flight one day in a Mosquito which was being taken up for testing by F/O Frank Jones. Read the full story here.
Roland sitting in a Percival Prentice
Roland in the Carpentry Workshop at RAF Schleswigland
AOC's Inspection October 1956. Cpl. Roland Pickering right-hand flank