F/S Jack “Chiefy” Adcock BEM

Flight Sergeant John Henry “Chiefy” Adcock (524788), 6197 Servicing Echelon April 1944 – August 1945

Jack, as he was known to his family, or “Chiefy” Adcock, as he was known to the pilots of 197 Squadron, joined the RAF in 1935 and trained as an aircraft fitter. Just 21 years of age, John Adcock had already completed both Higher National Certificates and an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering, so he was well-prepared for his future professional career. Information on his early service is sparse, although it is known that he was posted to Singapore in 1938. In late 1941, John Adcock was still there, serving as an engineer on patrol boats, managing to get out just before the Japanese arrived. After that, he served with Spitfire and Hurricane squadrons in Lincolnshire before his arrival as a Flight Sergeant at RAF Tangmere to join 6197 Servicing Echelon RAF. 

6197 Servicing Echalon, location and date unknown, led by F/S “Chiefy” Adcock (centre sitting). But who are the rest of the unsung heroes who kept the 197 Typhoons flying? Can you help us name them? Image: courtesy Penny Rouse (Adcock Family)

6197 Servicing Echelon was formed in April 1944 at RAF Tangmere to support 197 Squadron on its move to join 2 TAF (The RAF Second Tactical Airforce). Both 197 Squadron and 6197 Servicing Echelon were part of 146 Airfield (later 146 Wing RAF) which, in turn, was part of 84 Group RAF.

6197 Servicing Echelon, an integral and essential part of 197 Squadron moved with the Squadron to Normandy in July 1944. It remained with them after that through France and Germany until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945. 197 Squadron and 6197 Servicing Echelon were both disbanded in August 1945.

6197 Servicing Echelon provided the essential first and second line, plus, on occasion, the third line maintenance necessary to keep the Typhoons flying. This involved not only assisting the Squadron’s armourers and other ground crew with arming and fueling the aircraft but also all the regular maintenance and servicing that these complex and temperamental aircraft required and the repair of, at times quite extensive, battle damage.

 This work was conducted in the open or under canvas, often in atrocious weather conditions, day and night. Not all repairs were conventional as John Adcock later recounted that they “chewed gum to plug engine leaks”. 

Fl Sgt John Henry "Chiefy" Adcock led the 100-plus ground crew personnel of 6197 Servicing Echelon from April 1944 to August 1945. He went on to become a Squadron leader and retired in 1962
F/S John Henry “Chiefy” Adcock led the 100-plus ground crew personnel of 6197 Servicing Echelon from April 1944 to August 1945. He went on to become a squadron leader and retired in 1962. Image: courtesy Penny Rouse (Adcock Family)

Chiefy Adcock was the senior enlisted man in 6197 Servicing Echelon. As such he was responsible for the day-to-day leadership and direction of the Echelon’s 100-plus ground crew personnel. It is to his and their great credit that 197 Squadron always achieved high levels of aircraft serviceability and was always able to meet all its operational commitments. Highly thought of by all the pilots and ground crew Flight Sergeant Adcock’s outstanding contribution was recognised by the award, in the January 1945 Birthday Honours list, of the British Empire Medal (BEM). The citation for which reads:

“Flight Sergeant Adcock has maintained an extremely high standard of serviceability of the aircraft of No.197 Squadron in trying circumstances. Despite difficulties of weather and enemy action, particularly since D-Day, he has invariably ensured that all flying commitments have been fulfilled.  By his drive and hard work, he has contributed materially to the remarkable operational successes achieved by the Squadron.” Source: Public Record Office Air 2/9056, courtesy of Hugh Halliday & Steve Brew, RAF Commands.

After the disbandment of 6197 Servicing Echelon, Flight Sergeant Adcock BEM remained in Germany serving with the British Air Force of Occupation. As a pre-war regular he chose to continue his regular service and was selected for commissioning in early 1946. Serving several tours both in the UK and Germany, with a penultimate tour with 114 MU, Steamer Point, Aden, John Adcock retired as a Squadron Leader on July 28, 1962.

Squadron Leader John Henry “Chiefy” Adcock BEM 

1914 – 1982

Published with kind permission, Penny Rouse (Adcock Family)