Jimmy (Paddy) Collins joined The RAF at No 3 Recruit Centre, RAF Cardington, Bedford on 2 November 1943.
From this centre having been fitted out in a new RAF uniform, he was posted to No3 Air crew Receiving centre at Regents Park, London on 8th November 1943. A full Medical and intelligence examination would have followed.
Having passed the exams Jimmy was posted to 14 Initial Training Wing Bridlington, North Yorkshire on 27 November 1943 for initial training.
Having completed his Basic RAF training he was posted on 19 February 1944 to No1 Empire Air Gunnery School RAF Pembrey, Carmarthenshire for training on the .303 Browning machine gun fitted to Bomber Commands Heavy bombers.
Posted to No 7 Air gunnery School Stormy Down, Near Pyle, Bridgend on 29 April 1944, Jimmy would have fired his weapons at the range at Margham near Port Talbort and flown in the turret mounted Avro Anson, the RAF's standard airborne training platform for Air Gunners.
Posted to No 10 Operational Training unit at RAF Abingdon, Oxfordshire (now Dalton Barracks used by the Royal Logistical Corp), he crewed up and the crew familiaized themselves with the units Vickers Wellington medium twin engined bomber.
The crew were then posted to RAF Lindholme (71 Base). This unit, part of 7 (training) Group was responsible for the conversion training of crews to the Handley Page Halifax, and Avro Lancasters as they became available.
It is highly probable that Lindholme's resident Heavy Conversion unit ( No 1656) was by this time equipped with the Avro Lancaster.
It was at this point that the crew were joined by their Flight Enginner. He having undergone seperate training on the handling of the 4 Merlin engines that powered the Lancaster.
Fighter affiliation training for the air gunners would have also been completed at Lindholme.
This aspect of crew training consisted of fighter aircraft, possibly Hurricanes of 1481 (Bomber) Gunnery Flight from RAF Ingham,( the airfield situated 1 mile North of RAF Scampton ) practicing engaging the crews Lancaster allowing for the Air Gunners to refrine their procedures for engaging enemy night fighter.
Having been passed out by the H.C.U's instructors,the crew were then ready for posting to any of No1 Groups operational Squadrons based in North Lincolnshire.
576 Squadron at RAF Fiskerton, operating the 4 engined Avro Lancaster was the crews new Squadron.
The crew commenced operations on the evening of the 21st March in Lancaster BA 562 B-Baker 2 (squared) to the German city of Bremen, the target being the Duetsche Vacuum Oil Refinery. This operation involved 133 Lancasters of No1 Group taking part and 6 Mosquitos from No 8 Group marking the target.
The Lancaster took off at 07-45 am and landed safely at 12-30pm having delivered its Bomb load of 1x 4,000lb High Capacity bomb (known as a cookie) and an Incendiary Load consisting of 1500 x 4lb and 120 x 60lb incendiaries.
The last operation Jimmy did with the Squadron was the return to the UK of Far Eastern Prisoners Of War. (Operation Dodge). These former POW's having been flown in from the Far East by the Americans to Pomigliano, Italy were repatriated to the UK on the 24th August.
The 576 Squadron crews having flown out of Fiskerton at 07-33 am on the morning of the 22nd August to Pomigiano.
Returning at 18-03 pm on the evening of the 24th August to the former USAAF Base at Glatton (Station 130), just west of Peterbourgh. This Base up to June 1945 had been the home of the 748th,749th,750th and 751st Bombardment Squadrons of the 457th Bombardment Group (Heavy), United States Army Air Force.
The Airfield now being one of the many former American airfields being used by the Royal Air Force as a Recieving Centre for repatriated Prisoners of War.
The Lancaster on this last operation was RF 200, D-Donald. Jimmy was on this, his last operation the Mid upper Gunner.
Records indicate that on this operation the crews usual M.U.G., Flight Sgt Hartnett was not on board, the Rear Gunners position on the Lancaster not being manned.
Flight Sgts Hartnett had been on the Operation Dodge flight to Pomigiano on the 11th to 13th August. Jimmy on that operation had not been required to man the Rear Turret.
576 Squadron disbanded on the 13th September 1945. The Squadron crews were spit between 50 and 61 Squadrons now based at RAF Sturgate near Gainsbourgh, Jimmy going to 50 Squadron on the 16th September.
This airfield,the last class A bomber airfield built as part of the wartime airfield building programme was never used operationially.
50 Squadron stayed at Sturgate until 23rd October 1946, when the Squadron was transferred to RAF Waddington.
Jimmy stayed with 50 Squadron until 9th December 1946 and was posted to the Signals Development Unit at West Drayton.
His duties at this unit are not known.
Finally Jimmy was posted out to 101 Personnel Dispatch Centre, Kirkham, Blackpool on 12th February 1947 and discharged from the service.