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Flt. Lt. J.P. Wheeler & the Goolie Chit

February 23, 2011 Flt. Lt. J.P. Wheeler & the Goolie Chit

When I was 19, I was an art student and drove round Wiltshire in a knackered old Hillman Imp, moaning about Thatcher and investigating the odd pharmaceutical. When my Grandfather was that age he was part of a national war effort, flying Lancaster’s as part of 617 Sqn (The Dambuster’s one), at night, in the dark, whilst being shot at.

He introduced me to the peculiar English pastime of drawing all curtains in the height of summer to stay inside and watch cricket and encouraged my love of the game with frequent trips to Canterbury cricket ground.

The other great thing I will remember about him is his stories, largely war-based, as is typical of his generation; my favourite being that of the ‘Goolie Chit‘.

After the war while based in Aden as it was then known (now Yemen) his responsibility was to map out the land, from the air, for the Royal Ordinance. He and all his fellow airmen were issued with something called a ‘Goolie Chit’. In case they were shot down by the local waring factions they were to produce it for their captors. It was essentially a piece of paper that was written in all the different languages of the region that offered a reward of £100 for the safe return of said airman with his testicles still attached to his body, as the local custom was was for a victor to remove them from his enemies.

It is his funeral today and whilst his final wishes, as a proud but gentle man, were for no great eulogies or obituaries; he overlooked the world of blogging.


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