Being an Effects Officer is hard work. Not only do you have the business of all the admin, which is monumental in the Services, but you have the emotional stuff as well. It transpired that John had cashed in all his insurance policies and that Linda would be left with just a widow's pension, which was not very much for a Sergeant's wife. She wobbled between being hysterical and being angry - there's nothing quite like the fury of grief. I had things thrown at me, including John's best uniform and his second French horn. She was impossible, even making allowances for her state of mind.
A pall of grief hung over the Station as it became known that 21 bandsmen had died. The press had got their teeth into the story, as it was front page news, and the widows were besieged by reporters wanting statements and photos. I say the widows - it was us Effects Officers who had to deal with the hacks, and very intrusive they were.
The RAF put on an aircraft to bring relatives out to Germany, and Linda's sister and John's Mother came. I went to meet the aircraft in the coach. Linda had forgotten to tell me she was an identical twin, so when the passengers disembarked, I thought for a minute that it was LInda, somehow magically transported to Wildenrath. At that stage, I considered that I might be going mad.
One of the people I felt most sorry for was the dentist - the unsung hero - who had to identify the horribly burnt bodies by their dental records. At the same time, an RAF Band Wing Commander from UK was telling the widows that they could see their husbands' bodies, which of course was out of the question. That particular idiot was dealt with by my Boss.
All the bodies were eventually brought back to Wildenrath and lay in a hangar overnight before being transported back to the UK by Hercules. A huge crowd gathered to pay their respects, including the C in C. It was the coldest day of the year and we were all in greatcoats. TV cameras were everywhere. We saluted each of 21 coffins.
Then it was back to the amazing amount of paperwork.
I spent 16 years in the RAF defending the Free World , then got bunged out unceremoniously for being bipolar. I and was subsequently diagnosed with PTSD. Funny old world, isn't it?