World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

                                              Jack Morley

 

A Wireless Operator's Tale, Part One

By actiondesksheffield

People in story: Jack Morley
Location of story: Herefordshire and Bridlington, England

 


This story was submitted to the People’s War site by Bill Ross of the ‘Action Desk – Sheffield’ Team on behalf of Jack Morley, and has been added to the site with the his permission. The author fully understands the site's terms and conditions.

However, this and other stories which will follow, are incomplete as they have been transcribed from audio tapes, the contents of which are stories that lack a beginning and/or end, but are still very worthy.

Part Two is at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/ww2/A5041531

…………………These aeroplanes seemed immense, but they weren’t really, they were the largest bombers the Germans had in the First World War, and they were kept in this hangar on display. For the next few days, we were marching around, having improvements made to our uniforms, and then, I was called on one side and was told, “Morley, you are now an AC2 in the RAF, but I’m afraid you’ll have to hand your kit in. It’ll be all sealed up and left in your name, and you will have to go home, because, you're not only under 18, you’re 17 years old, but you’re also a crucible furnace man, and this is an exempt trade. What we want you to do now is to go back to Sheffield, enrol at the Naval Wireless School in Sheffield, to learn Morse Code and procedure, but also to try to get another job because until you leave that job and get a job that is not deferred, we cannot recall you.

I was most disappointed, but, I had to do as I was told and when I came back home, Mam said, “Oh good, they’ve sent ya back ‘cos ya not old enough.” I said, “Yeah, but they’re goina send for me back when I get the sack.” I told Beattie, she sez, “Well, what yer goina do Jack?” I sez, “Ask at your firm if there’s any jobs,” I sez, “’cos I’m going looking for our boss and if I can’t find him, I’m goina put me notice in ‘cos he still owes me some wages.”

This is what I did, but I couldn’t find the boss at his home, so I called into the firm at Ladwins and said, “I’m putting my notice in, I can’t find the boss, so I’m finishing now.” I said, “He owes me some money, so I’ve finished.” I went straight down to Beattie’s firm, a Wafer Razor Company, and they made machines as well, they made caps and lathes. I asked the foreman and he said, “Oh yes, we’re waiting for somebody to paint these lathes when they’ve been made. “Oh,” I said, “I’ll take that job on.” He said, “Right you are, when can you start?” I said, “Now, if you want.” He said, “No yer can’t, you're dressed up, come back tomorra.”

So now, I was exempted and I was now a machine painter. Beattie used to engrave the razor blades in acid, a nasty job, but I had a job now. I was outside most of the time, or I had a little shed if it rained. I used to go home with Beattie at dinnertime, because she always went home for dinner, and I used to take my sandwiches with me. After a few weeks of this, her mother said to me, “Ya can’t come here any more for yer dinner.” I said, “Why not?” She said, “Because tea and sugar are rationed and you haven’t brought me any tea and sugar. “Oh,” I said, “Alright then, I’ll just not bother,” and I didn’t.

Beattie was most upset, but I wasn’t going to tell me mother how mean Beattie’s mother was, she couldn’t afford a cuppa tea for me. Anyway, after a period, the Wafer Razor Company bought out a church on Scotland Street, and I was one of the two who had been asked to go and knock the inside of the church out, get rid of the pews into the yard at the back, and then we could help to put the girders up. They’d bought the chapel, so we moved from Earsham Street, to John Street. One of the delicate jobs was taking the organ down and marking each piece, one, two, three etc., taking it carefully down and it was to be collected by a lorry and taken to somewhere in Oxford, to a church there.

The place that was meant to be the canteen had a War Memorial in, and the boss kept that War Memorial. For the next twelve months, I was helping to rebuild this firm and when it was built, I painted all the walls inside and helped in the installation of the machines. Then, eventually, I got called up because I’d changed my job; I wasn’t doing the furnace job, but in the meantime, those months were wonderful months. I attended Naval Wireless School three nights a week, and I was still in the Home guard (I still had to carry my rifle about with me, so I used to take it to work and lock it up at work), and at weekends, if we weren’t on exercises, and if we’d no parades for the Boys’ Brigade, and we’d no Sunday Parades, Beatrice and I used to go rambling all over Derbyshire in that twelve months.

Anyway, I was recalled, but not back to Cordington, so I had to be kitted out again when I finally got to the next destination. It was a place just outside Manchester. I got to Manchester Station, clutching my little case and I met a lad on the station; he had a little case too. We got talking and it turned out that he was a collier from Shirland. It was his first time away from home. We both caught the train to our destination where we were kitted out: knife, fork and spoon etc. After we’d received out uniforms, we were told that, that afternoon, we’d be going by train to Blackpool for wireless training. A few of us had made pals that first day, and some of us managed to squeeze into one carriage and off we went to Blackpool.

A funny thing happened at Blackpool; we stepped off the train at Blackpool’s Talbot Road Station, and as we looked around, a voice shouted, “Stay where you are.” This was Flight Sergeant Frazer. “You are all to be under my command.” This was a bit shaky for a start. He said, “Stand in two rows,” which we did. “Right, put yer cases on the floor and everyone, go outside the station, there’s a barber’s shop. The barber will deal with you in a few minutes; get your hair cut!!”

The lad I’d 'palled' up with, Alan Wallace, had long blonde hair. So, we walked down together and they gave us a haircut. We were among the last to get back and when we did arrive, they were all waiting. When half way across the platform, the flight sergeant shouted, “HALT”. So we did. He said, “I thought I’d told you to get yer haircut.” “We’ve had it done, Flight Sergeant.” “Go back and get it finished.” So we went back to the barber and we had it cut again. When we came back:- ”Now go back and get it done properly.” So on the third visit, the barber said, “Who keeps sending yer back?” “Flight Sergeant Frazer.” So, I said to him, “Cut it as short as you like, not shaven, but short.” So he gave me what would be called a crew cut. I was nearly in tears when he cut all my lovely locks off. Alan said, “Do t’same for me.”

When we walked up the platform, we were both grinning; we thought. “He can’t get at us now.” He let us get right back up to our position, and we were still grinning. He said, “You have just been awarded 7 days’ jankers for dumb insolence.” That was because we’d grinned at him.

We had to go and get kitted out for this jankers, so we marched down to Woolworth’s corner, where we had been allocated a space. The flight sergeant met us and he marched us round the corner to the bottom of Albert Road, and into a Mark’s and Spencer’s store. Here, we were issued with a rifle with a fixed bayonet. We were told, “If anyone comes to this store, you challenge ‘em with, ‘Halt, who goes there?’ If they don’t answer, shoot ‘em. Well, no, you can’t shoot ‘em yet, you’ve got to challenge ‘em three times, but, if they don’t show their I.D. card, ask them to go away and come back with it. Now, you’ve got one bullet each and if they don’t answer, shoot ‘em! Just like that!”

After about an hour or so, nobody had been by, then along came Flight Sergeant Frazer. “Ah,” he said, “We’ve got yer busy have we?” “Yes Flight.” Then he started to go past us, and we both said, “Halt! Show your identity card.” He said, “You know who I am, I’m Flight Sergeant Frazer.” We said, “We’ve got to see your identity card.” Well, strangely, he wasn’t carrying it, so we arrested him. We locked him in a very little room that was provided for the very purpose. We told out guard commander who said, “Alright, leave him in there.”

The next minute, the squadron c.o. came down. He said, “I’m your course commanding officer.” “Show us your identity card sir.” “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, “I haven’t got it with me.” “Well, you can’t go in here without it.” “I want to see Flight Sergeant Frazer.” I said, “No sir, we’ve got orders to shoot if yer don’t do as we tell yer.” So off he went and came back with his card. He was furious, but we let him pass when we saw his card. He went in and spoke to the guard commander and then came out with Flight Sergeant Frazer who was absolutely fuming after being locked up. The officer said, “You did quite right chaps. The guard commander said, “You’re for it tomorra, Flight Sergeant Frazer is fuming.”

As it happened, Flight Sergeant Frazer never came near us again, so really, it was a cushy job because we were only there for about 2 ½ hours, then we were back to the billets.

Anyway, we were taken to various places for certain classes. The first one was Morse procedure, which I’d already done in the navy, but I had to learn it the RAF way now. I couldn’t do it; although I’d been doing almost 20 words a minute at the naval school, that was too slow, so I had to learn it all again. I got good practice at it whilst walking round Blackpool and telling my mates the names of shops etc., in Morse code, so most of the squad learnt Morse Code from me, rather than the instructors.

On some occasions, we went up to the rifle range at Bispham. It was a long walk and we were often tired before we got there, but we still had to get down and do target practice. All in all, it was a good grounding for the service life that was to come.

For about three months, we hadn’t had leave, then towards the end of the course, we were told that we would be allowed to go on a 72 hour pass. When we got back, we were to be posted to Madely in Herefordshire, along with some more. In Madely, we went to Number Four Radio School where we were checked off the allocated billets. Here, we were given corporals to be in charge of us, each had his own corporal. It was strange to know that some of the things I would be learning were about some of the things that would be happening on 101 Squadron, when I got there. ‘Alert G’ was a new invention at that time, and H2S was just coming out, so we learnt the rudiments of that. Then we were sent to learn the rudiments of gunnery by going clay pigeon shooting.

Eventually, it was announced that we’d passed our courses and were to be posted to various stations to learn more about wireless maintenance. Fred Jackson and I were posted to a place on the east coast, just above Bridlington. We reported to the Wireless Maintenance department there, and we were given a bicycle each. Our billet was to be at Bransburton and the maintenance section was at the far side of the aerodrome.

One of the wireless mechanics said to us, “If you can get hold of a flying helmet, you’ll be able to go flying, if you get stationed on a dispersal site." So, we managed to get a flying helmet, and I got hold of a flying logbook, but I was told that I would have to hand it in when I left the station because I wasn’t supposed to have it.

On the very first day, I reported to the hut on the dispersal site and there were three aircraft there, all Bowfighters. I checked the wirelesses on each one, then I went back into the hut. A pilot came in and asked, “Has anyone got a flying helmet?” I said, “Yes sir, I have." “Righto, come with me lad,” he sez. So I followed him. “Climb aboard,” he sez. I wondered what was going on now. He said, “We’re going for a little trip around Bridlington and some practice shooting at the range. Well, the observer’s seat in this aircraft was beside a huge oblong drum, full of canon shells. He said, “If any of ‘em get jammed, give ‘em a little tug, and if you can’t loosen them, tell me.”

I’d nothing to do except listen on the wireless. Anyway, he went down to this range, a short way down the coast, right on the coast. It was a huge sheet of metal and he went and fired at it, and he hit it. It split all ways. Then he flew over the sea and he said, “Now we’ll have a run round the bay, now we’ve hit the target.” So we had a flight around Bridlington, then went back to base and landed, then he said, “When I land, hold tight because these aircraft stall below 120 miles per hour, and they’re likely to crash if we stall."

Beside Bowfighters, there were Balfour Torpedo Bombers and Blenheim Bombers on this station. The station was a Coastal Command OTU, in actual fact, a huge aerodrome. Once or twice, I got a trip in a Blenheim, which I thought was quite nice. I got to fly in Bowfighters quite a lot. Sometimes, a pilot would say, “Oh, there’s a German boat out there, let’s go and shoot it up, just for fun.” They weren’t supposed to do that, but they did it.

On one occasion, we got chased away from Norway; he’d lost his direction and he said, “Call up and see if you can get me some information or something.” But before I had a chance, two German fighters came up from the coast of Norway, so he about turned. He knew where he was then. So we made our way back to Bridlington.

Close to the camp was a beacon site at Skipsy. If we did anything wrong, we got seven days on the flasher beacon. That was a little camp of about 14 strong and had a couple of men training to be RAF regiment soldiers. There was nothing else other than this beacon, which had to be kept flashing all the time the RAF had an aeroplane in the air. It wasn’t as dangerous as it seemed. We used to change a cam to alter a letter each day, and the beacon itself, stood on a metal framework with tarpaulins around, and inside was a mattress, and an electric light was fixed up for when we were on at night time. The first time we went to the cookhouse, it was, “What would yer like to eat?” I thought, “This is strange, a sergeant cook asking what would we like." So he told us, “When you go on duty up there at night, you’ll be in the safest place in England.” We asked why, and he said, “You’ll find out when yer go.” It was because the Germans came out over the North Sea, turned around our beacon and went down the coast to bomb Hull. It was a marker for ‘em, so they weren’t likely to bomb us. I had a wonderful seven days there; actually, I kept doing little naughty things so that I could get sent there again. I went there quite a few times, in fact, it became like a little permanent unit, but all good things come to an end.

I was going on seven days’ leave, after which I had to report back to RAF Madely. When I eventually arrived at Madely, I saw my old pal Freddie Jackson and a new pal, Bill Harvey. I’d become firm pals with him, until he got killed. Anyway, we were to start a refresher course at Madely, and if we passed it, we were to be made sergeants, so we worked hard at this, helping one another along. In the meantime, during the refresher course, we were billeted not at the same site, but at a site near where the church stands, near Hartley’s jam factory. There were three rows of huts, and a big flight sergeant, who had a huge watch which was the full size of his breast pocket.

We were in Hut C, and when we’d had breakfast, we went back to the hut, got ready to go down to the classes, and the flight sergeant would come, and blow his whistle. We’d pile into three ranks, and he’d keep looking at this big watch. When it was time to go, off we’d go and he would wait until every man had passed him at the gateway, then, as we marched down the hill, towards where the classrooms were, and the church, he would cycle past, shouting at us to pick our feet up, this, that and the other. Then he’d cycle back, up and down he used to go. Then came the first Sunday, church parade. All three huts turned out as usual to go down for church parade. One by one, people went missing, from the parade as he stood there looking at his watch. By the time he’d finished, there were less than half the number of people he’d set off with to go down to church parade, but he never bothered. He just ignored us. But whilst going down to church parade, he’d be shouting, “Come on, I know yer, I know who you are, I know who’s missing.” But he didn’t know. When we got to the church, he would stand at the door, ushering us in, and then he’s shoot off somewhere.

When we went into the church, he’d disappeared. When we came out, he was there again to take us back up to the sites. The flight sergeant’s name was Evans and he’d been in the air force about twenty years. This ritual happened every time we went on parade. But eventually, the wondrous day arrived; we’d learnt enough to go flying. Oh my, how good that was. On a designated morning, we were marched down to the aerodrome, and here was our first introduction to flying. I was among the first batch of three or four to climb into a Dominic aircraft. This was what we’d always thought was the main plane. We were to go for a familiarisation flight and this would be for a period of about ten minutes. It took off with a mighty roar from the two engines, everything shook. In turn, each one of us was violently sick during that first trip.

A couple of days later, we were on another trip in a Dominic, but this time it wasn’t too bad. After we’d had two or three trips, we were allocated an instructor, to fly Proctors wherever we went. We could learn to fly and use the wireless set. This was a wonderful time for me because the Proctor was much more stable than the Dominic. To my surprise, I wasn’t sick at all. The wirelesses were the 1082/3. There used to be a song about them, but I can’t remember it.

We gradually got into the way of sending messages from the air, sending and receiving Morse, how to get bearings etc. I was realizing my ambitions here, it was always my ambition to fly. Anyway, the weeks went by and it became time for our final examinations. There wasn’t one man on the course who failed. So, that was a cue for a night out in Hereford. On the following day, we were all to receive our sergeants’ stripes. What a night we had, no one caught the bus back because the bus went before the pubs turned out, so I was among the walkers, or more appropriately, one of the staggerers; we were in a right sorry state by the time we got back. But we didn’t report to the guardroom, we went straight to the billet, and we were hauled over the coals for not signing in.

We had to go and get kitted out for this jankers, so we marched down to Woolworth’s corner, where we had been allocated a space. The flight sergeant met us and he marched us round the corner to the bottom of Albert Road, and into a Mark’s and Spencer’s store. Here, we were issued with a rifle with a fixed bayonet. We were told, “If anyone comes to this store, you challenge ‘em with, ‘Halt, who goes there?’ If they don’t answer, shoot ‘em. Well, no, you can’t shoot ‘em yet, you’ve got to challenge ‘em three times, but, if they don’t show their I.D. cards, ask them to go away and come back with it. Now, you’ve got one bullet each and if they don’t answer, shoot ‘em! Just like that!”

After about an hour or so, nobody had been by, then along came Flight Sergeant Frazer. “Ah,” he said, “We’ve got yer busy have we?” “Yes Flight.” Then he started to go past us, and we both said, “Halt! Show your identity card.” He said, “You know who I am, I’m Flight sergeant Frazer.” We said, “We’ve got to see your identity card.” Well, strangely, he wasn’t carrying it, so we arrested him. We locked him into a very little room that was provided for the very purpose. We told out guard commander who said, “Alright, leave him in there.”

The next minute, the squadron c.o. came down. He said, “I’m your course commanding officer.” “Show us your identity card sir.” “Oh, I’m sorry,” he said, “I haven’t got it with me.” “Well, you can’t go in here without it.” “I want to see Flight Sergeant Frazer.” I said, “No sir, we’ve got orders to shoot if yer don’t do as we tell yer.” So off he went and came back with his card. He was furious, but we let him pass when we saw his card. He went in and spoke to the guard commander and then came out with Flight Sergeant Frazer who was absolutely fuming after being locked up. The officer said, “You did quite right chaps. The guard commander said, “You’re for it tomorra, Flight Sergeant Frazer is fuming.”

As it happened, Flight Sergeant Frazer never came near us again, so really, it was a cushy job because we were only there for about 2 ½ hours, then we were back to the billets.

Anyway, we were taken to various places for certain classes. The first one was Morse procedure, which I’d already done in the navy, but I had to learn it the RAF way now. I couldn’t do it; although I’d been doing almost 20 words a minute at the naval school, that was too slow, so I had to learn it all again. I got good practice at it whilst walking round Blackpool and telling my mates the names of shops etc., in Morse code, so most of the squad learnt Morse Code from me, rather than the instructors.

On some occasions, we went up to the rifle range at Bispham. It was a long walk and we were often tired before we got there, but we still had to get down and do target practice. All in all, it was a good grounding for the service life that was to come.

For about three months, we hadn’t had leave, then towards the end of the course we were told that we would be allowed to go on a 72 hour pass. When we got back, we were to be posted to Madely in Herefordshire along with some more. In Madely, we went to Number Four Radio School where we were checked off then allocated billets. Here, we were given corporals to be in charge of us, each had his own corporal. It was strange to know that some of the things I would be learning were about some of the things that would be happening on 101 Squadron, when I got there. ‘Alert G’ was a new invention at that time, and H2S was just coming out, so we learnt the rudiments of that. Then we were sent to learn the rudiments of gunnery by going clay pigeon shooting.

Eventually, it was announced that we’d passed our courses and were to be posted to various stations to learn more about wireless maintenance. Fred Jackson and I were posted to a place on the east coast, just above Bridlington. We reported to the Wireless Maintenance department there, and we were given a bicycle each. Our billet was to be at Bransburton and the maintenance section was at the far side of the aerodrome.

One of the wireless mechanics said to us, “If you can get hold of a flying helmet, you’ll be able to go flying if you get stationed on a dispersal site. So, we managed to get a flying helmet, and I got hold of a flying logbook, but I was told that I would have to hand it in when I left the station because I wasn’t supposed to have it.

On the very first day, I reported to the hut on the dispersal site and there were three aircraft there, all Bowfighters. I checked the wirelesses on each one, then I went back into the hut. A pilot came in and asked, “Has anyone got a flying helmet?” I said, “Yes sir, I have. “Righto, come with me lad,” he sez. So I followed him. “Climb aboard,” he sez. I wondered what was going on now. He said, “We’re going for a little trip around Bridlington and some practice shooting at the range. Well, the observer’s seat in this aircraft was beside a huge oblong drum, full of canon shells. He said, “If any of ‘em get jammed, give ‘em a little tug, and if you can’t loosen them, tell me.”

I’d nothing to do except listen on the wireless. Anyway, he went down to this range, a short way down the coast, right on the coast. It was a huge sheet of metal and he went and fired at it, and he hit it. It split all ways. Then he flew over the sea and he said, “Now we’ll have a run round the bay now we’ve hit the target.” So we had a flight around Bridlington, then went back to base and landed, then he said, “When I land, hold tight because these aircraft stall below 120 miles per hour and they’re likely to crash if we stall.

Beside Bowfighters, there were Balfour Torpedo bombers and Blenheim Bombers on this station. The station was a Coastal Command OUT, a huge aerodrome in fact. Once or twice, I got a trip in a Blenheim, which I thought was quite nice. I got to fly in Bowfighters quite a lot. Sometimes, a pilot would say, “Oh, there’s a German boat out there, let’s go and shoot it up, just for fun.” They weren’t supposed to do that, but they did it.

On one occasion, we got chased away from Norway; he’d lost his direction and he said, “Call up and see if you can get me some information or something.” But before I had a chance, two German fighters came up from the coast of Norway, so he about turned. He knew where he was then. So we made our way back to Bridlington.

Close to the camp was a beacon site at Skipsy. If we did anything wrong, we got seven days on the flasher beacon. That was a little camp of about 14 strong and had a couple of men training to be RAF regiment soldiers. There was nothing else other than this beacon which had to be kept flashing all the time the RAF had an aeroplane in the air. It wasn’t as dangerous as it seemed. We used to change a cam to alter a letter each day, and the beacon itself, stood on a metal framework with tarpaulins around, and inside was a mattress and an electric light was fixed up for when new were on at night time.

The first time we went to the cookhouse, it was, “What would yer like to eat?” I thought, “This is strange, a sergeant cook asking what would we like. So he told us, “When you go on duty up there at night, you’ll be in the safest place in England.” We asked why, and he said, “You’ll find out when yer go.” It was because the Germans came out over the North Sea, turned around our beacon and went down the coast to bomb Hull. It was a marker for ‘em, so they weren’t likely to bomb us. I had a wonderful seven days there; actually, I kept doing little naughty things so that I could get sent there again. I went there quite a few times, in fact, it became like a little permanent unit, but all good things come to an end.

I was going on seven days’ leave, after which I had to report back to RAF Madely. When I eventually arrived at Madely, I saw my old pal Freddie Jackson and a new pal, Bill Harvey. I’d become firm pals with him, until he got killed. Anyway, we were to start a refresher course at Madely, and if we passed it, we were to be made sergeants, so we worked hard at this, helping one another along. In the meantime, during the refresher course, we were billeted not at the same site, but at a site near where the church stands, near Hartley’s jam factory. There were three rows of huts and a big flight sergeant, who had a huge watch, the full size of his breast pocket.

We were in Hut C, and when we’d had breakfast, we went back to the hut, got ready to go down to the classes, and the flight sergeant would come, and blow his whistle, we’d pile into three ranks, and he’d keep looking at this big watch, and when it was time to go, off we’d go and he would wait until every man had passed him at the gateway, then as we marched down the hill, towards where the classrooms were, and the church, he would cycle past, shouting at us to pick our feet up, this, that and the other. Then he’d cycle back, up and down he used to go.

Then came the first Sunday, church parade. All three huts turned out as usual to go down for church parade. One by one, people went missing, from the parade as he stood there looking at his watch. By the time he’d finished, there were less than half the number of people he’d set off with to go down to church parade, but he never bothered. He just ignored us. But whilst going down to church parade, he’d be shouting, “Come on, I know yer, I know who you are, I know who’s missing.” But he didn’t know. When we got to the church, he would stand at the door, ushering us in, and then he’s shoot off somewhere.
When we went into the church, he’d disappeared.

When we came out, he was there again to take us back up to the sites. The flight sergeant’s name was Evans and he’d been in the air force about twenty years. This ritual happened every time we went on parade. But eventually, the wondrous day arrived; we’d learnt enough to go flying. Oh my, how good that was. On a designated morning, we were marched down to the aerodrome, and here was our first introduction to flying.

I was among the first batch of three or four to climb into a Dominic aircraft. This was what we’d always thought was the main plane. We were to go for a familiarisation flight and this would be for a period of about ten minutes. It took off with a might roar from two engines, everything shook. In turn, each one of us was violently sick during that first trip.

A couple of days later, we were on another trip in a Dominic, but this time it wasn’t too bad. After we’d had two or three trips, we were allocated an instructor, to fly Proctors wherever we went . We could learn to fly, use the wireless set. This was a wonderful time for me because the Proctor was much more stable than the Dominic. To my surprise, I wasn’t sick at all. The wirelesses were the 1082/3. There used to be a song about them, but I can’t remember it.

We gradually got into the way of sending messages from the air, sending and receiving Morse, how to get bearings etc. I was realizing my ambitions here, it was always my ambition to fly. Anyway, the weeks went by and it became time for our final examinations. There wasn’t one man on the course who failed. So, that was a cue for a night out in Hereford. On the following day, we were all to receive our sergeants’ stripes. What a night we had, no one caught the bus back because the bus went before the pubs turned out, so I was among the walkers, or more appropriately, one of the staggerers; we were in a right sorry state by the time we got back. But we didn’t report to the guardroom, we went straight to the billet, for which we were hauled over the coals for not signing in, we’d been put down as absent. Anyway, we got away with that, nobody charged us with anything. We just got a good dressing down for not reporting in at the guardroom.
We paraded once more, then informed that a certain number of us were to go to a place called West Frue, which was an advanced flying unit. As we approached Stranraer Station, once more there was a fleet of busses to meet us. The busses took us to our sleeping quarters.

At Loughborough Station, there was quite a few of us, all different; not all Wireless Operators, all sorts of aircrew. We were put on busses to take us to Wymeswold. It seemed as if half the air force was there. At Wymeswold, they gave us billets and we went on parade. We were told we’d all be visiting classes – all the classes – every other crew member’s classes. This went on for about a fortnight.
Eventually, they said, “Right, now you’ve seen each other’s classes, you can form yourselves up into crews, find out the people you’ve got used to, see if yer compatible and form yer own crews.” Well, I found a little cockney fella, and when they told us we could form our own crews, he came to me and sez, “Now then mate, you’re a wireless operator and gunner, I’m Don Dale and this fella at the side o’ me is Ginger Congeton.” He was a tall ginger haired fella. He sez, ”We’re the two best gunners in the RAF.” He said, “We’re the top of our course.” I said, “Well I was the top of my course.” “Would yer like to fly with us?” I said, “Yes.” I got to know ‘em, we chatted. He said, “Well, I’ve been talking to two Welsh officers and they’d like to join us, so come on, we’ll go and meet them.” There I met John Arthur and Di Jones

Now, Don was 34 years old, about the oldest gunner in the RAF at the time, and Di Jones was about 28, Ginger was about 26, so I felt like a little lad at side o’ them. We went wandering around, we didn’t see many pilots about. One came up to us and said, “Are you looking for a pilot?” We said, “Well, yes we are.” He said, “I’m a very good pilot, my name’s John Ross Miring.” We seemed very compatible. As a crew, we each went to every section for a day or two until we’d learnt all about aircraft recognition. Then one morning, they said, “Well, so many crews have been posted to Castle Donningtom, which ois a satellite of Wymeswold, but before yer go there, we’re going to Loughborough College for practising turning over a dinghy. Don’t take anything except your clothes with yer.”

We all had to jump into Lindholme Lake and the dinghy was thrown in beside us, but we’d been told that the easiest way to turn a dinghy over is to get hold of the bottle side. It turned over easily. We climbed in and peddled back towards the edge of the lake, and got out, then we had to go back to the billets and get our clothes dried. A couple of days later, we were of on a bus to Castle Donnington. We were allowed to roam round on bicycles, to get used to the place, then we were called into a meeting room to be told what the course was to be, the Wireless Operator’s course.
The main thing was that we were to be working on Wellington 1C bombers that were almost clapped out. The pilot was the one who had to learn to fly twin engine aircraft and we had to each do our own jobs. We used to do circuits, landings, high level bombings, cross country trips that involved all the lot of us doing our own jobs. I found out the best time for getting bearings was on approach to landing. As we went round the circuit and turned towards landing, I could get lots of bearings quickly because in these aircraft was the transmitter/receiver 1082/3, instead of the old ones we’d been used to before. These were a very modern wireless set. I quickly learnt it and I learnt to get bearings quickly. When we were out on cross country, I used to practise with a direction finder, pass the results to the navigator who would say yes or no whether they would be right or not. I used to call stations up to get fixes for the navigator, to help him. If it was night time, we would take star shots with his sextant. He taught me how to use it and he would show me how to operate ‘G’, which was a new navigational aid.
We were doing fine, and towards Christmas time, 1943, there were heavy falls of snow and Castle Donnington was completely out of action. Bill Harvey was here with Flight Sergeant Robinson. I don’t know who Freddy Jackson was with. When we weren’t flyiongg at night, I used to go with Bill Harvey to his parents’ which wasn’t far away. They called me Sheff, on account of my coming from Sheffield. There was a taxi driver, Tom, who would say, “If you need me, get on the phone and I’ll come and fetch yer.”
Come this Christmas when there were no snow ploughs and cleaning the runways by shovel was too much, and the roads through Castle Donnington were clear, we rang Tom up and I said to Don, “I’m goina try and get home for Christmas while this snow’s here, so I’ll ring up each dinner time and see how we’re going on, and if you say they’ve started clearing snow, I’ll make my way back. It’s only an hour to Sheffield.” So, this I did; I rang Don one day and he said, “They’ve produced some bulldozers, so get back here as quickly as yer can,” which I did. When I go back, they were waiting for me, they said, “Come on, we’re flying tonight.” So we were doing circuits and landings that night. But, I had been home for Christmas once more. From then on, we were doing very well and I think we were one of the top crews.
One night, the 24th of February, we’d been on a cross country, I was doing the usual thing, getting bearings and it looked as if the wireless set was going to fall on me and I was falling sideways, so I grabbed the watch and shoved it in my pocket. I was trying to get my quick release, but I couldn’t. The escape hatch was down by the side of me and I grabbed that. A chap threw my belt and I fell onto the floor and blacked out just as the wireless set fell onto my seat. I awoke and I was very pleased that I’d not been afraid, but I thought I was dead. My navigator started to pull my leg; he said, “Come on Jack, it’s burning.” He helped me out. The Wellington had a geodetic construction; my head had just managed to get between the aluminium framework, through the campus and I was laid on my back when I blacked out. I followed John put, stumbled up through the escape hatch and losy my boots in the process then slid down the wing tip as ordered. Then I thought, “I didn’t see Dai Jones or John Ross Miring when I came down, so I turned back round and John Arthur said, “Where yer going?” I sez, “I’m just going up to see if them two’s alright and help ‘em out if they’re not. “You’re a blood fool,” he sez. But anyway, he waited for me and they’d gopt out, their escape hatch was already gone. He sez, “That’s the bravest thing I’ve ever seen, but yer still a bloody fool.” But, we went round the front. I was in my stocking feet now. This engine without a propeller was screaming. We retraced our steps, followed the rough, we thought it was a ditch, but it was a furrow that we’d made as we’d come between the trees along the hillside. We feared the worst for Don because he was in the rear turret.
Half a mile from the plane, we came upon Dai Jones who had literally pulled a metal bottom from the turret and Don was sat there with his arms around his head, and he rolled forward and out. He’d just got a little bump on his head, he hadn’t got a headache or anything. The crash tender was down below us on the hillside. Thet said, “We can’t get up there because of the trees, can you get down to us?” So we made our way down to them, and when we got there, we were right outside the Nag’s Head which was at the top of Castle Donnington village and the entrance to the camp was nearby. The medical officer there ushered us into the Nag’s Head, not for a drink, but to give us a medical. When he’d finished, he said, “I’ll get you a pair of shoes to wear.” He got me a pair from the landlord, I think. Then the wireless op leader came in and said, “Oh, have you got yer codebooks and things?” I sez, “Would you have yer bloody codebooks and things if yer aeroplane’s burning round yet?” He said, “Well, no.” So that was the end of that. He said, “Have you lost anything?” I said, “Yeh, I lost me flying boots coming out of the escape hatch, and I’ve lost me watch.” He said, “How did yer lose yer watch?” I said, “Because I used to always hang it on the wireless.” “Oh, right.” So, when we got back onto the camp, before we went to sleep, I was issued with another watch and a pair of flying boots.
We had a meal and we were told that we could go on survivor’s leave the following day, but when we were all together, I said, “I’ve not seen our pilot, Johnny Ross Miring.” One bloke said, “And if we do see him, I’ll kill him.” They found out why afterwards, because he said that, he said, “I’ll never fly with him again.” So we all said, “If you’re not flying with him, we’re not flying with him.” I heard afterwards that what had happened was that he was landing and he was making a mess of it, and Dai shouted, “Get some power on and overshoot,” which he did, but then, instead of waiting for full power to come, before he’d got full power, he tried to turn and so the engine cut out and the other engine forced us straight into the ground where we burst into flames.
At the survivors’ leave park, he said, “You can go tomorra morning, have a bit o’ breakfast, then yer can get yer leave passes from the guardroom, they’ll all be waiting for yer. So next morning, I was up at six o’clock, had me breakfast and a chap in the guardroom said, “Hang on, we’ve got the little van here, where yer goin’, down to Derby?” I said, “Yeh.” He said, “I’ll run yer down, it’s not far.” So he drove me down to Derby and pulled up outside the station, and he got out first. He said, “Come on Morley, that’s a Sheffield train that’s stood on Number One platform. So he alsed the guard to open it up a minute, whilst I got on, he said, “Good luck,” and there I was , on my way home. It was early in the morning, abnout 8 or 9 o’clock when I got home that morning, the 25th of February which was my sister’s nineteenth birthday. She was at hone because she’d had a day off work for her birthday. She said, “What are you doin’ here?” I said, “We crashed last night.” She said, “Ooh, that’s funny, I’d been reading last night’s Star about an American bomber that crashed at Endcliffe Park and all the men were killed.” She said, “What yer goina do?” I said, “I’m goping to go up to Beattie’s, up to work.” She said, “You’re not going to work, we’re going to go out together.” I said, “Well, I’m going up to see Beattie, do you wanna go up?” She said, “No, I don’t wanna go.” So I went up to fetch Beattie, my girlfriend, then we went up to Endcliffe to see this bomber. We crashed on the 24th and that bomber crashed on the 22nd, and all were killed.
The RAF association, from then on, always laid a wreath on a stone where the aircraft finished up, all over the park. Now they lay a wreath every year on the nearest Sunday to that day. When I formed the aircrew association in 1981, and I was founder chairman, I decided that we too would lay wreaths on the same day, and we do it right to this day, on the nearest Sunday to the crash. If the weather’s too bad, we go into the little local church, but we always have some American airmen there. One year, they didn’t turn up, so I wrote to the American Embassy in London about it. I received a profuse apology and ever after that, the Americans still do come to honour their own airmen.
Anyway, back to Castle Donnington, once we got back off survivors’ leave, we hadn’t got a pilot, so we were taken by bus, back to the other place where we started and we were introduced to a Warrant Officer who said, “I’ve got a pilot here, and we’re going to go round and round here to see if he can fly a Wellington, ‘cos he’s looking for a crew and you’re looking for a pilot.” So we got together and the pilot took the controls – this was George Harris who we were to fly with through our operations. At this instant, we were a bit wary of what was going to happen, and, he set off down the runway, gradually picking up speed, and there was such a bang. He was all arms and legs, all action; the plane slewed sideways onto one wing tip and off the runway, the engines were cut, and the Warrant Officer said, immediately shook his hands and he turned round to us and said, “Nar then fellas, I recommend yer take this pilot because I couldn’t have done any better than that. He just saved your lives by his actions there. I tyre had burst and he slewed us round onto the grass at the side of the runway.
From then on, we went back to Castle Donnington and resumed our training there. But, when we arrived back, Bill Harvey and his crew Sergeant Robinson had already gone to east Kirby in Lincolnshire. We recommenced training, did a couple of circuits, then a cross country, and by now, I was 21 year old; I’d already been on survivors’ leave when I was twenty. I took advantage one night and tried to get home for my 21st birthday. I hitch hiked, and I only got as far as Spondon, where I met Allen Wallace’s father, who said, “Come on, we’ll have a drink.” All the village joined in, then he brought me back with a motor bike and side car back to Castle Donnington. I never got back to Sheffield for my 21st.
Towards the end of April, we got posted away to a conversion unit, I think it’s 1664 at Doncaster. This was to be converted onto Halifax. We didn’t like this idea, but, we wandered around for a day or two, ‘cos we ‘d to pick up an engineer before we could go flying at this unit. We met a local farmer and got friendly with him, then one morning, we were to met a flight engineer. This was little Jock Wood. He came across and met us, then he said, “Don’t worry about me, I’ve been an engine fitter, I know all about engines and I’ll be alright. So we walked around for a day or two with him and then one day we were flying. We climbed into this aircraft, and he said, “I’m going to show you that the Halifax is quite safe, depite all the crashes that there have been this week.” There had been five crashes that week. He said, “They’ve all been pilot error.” He took off and went up to about ten thousand feet, and then he ahd words with the engineer. He said, “When I say ‘do it’, do it straight away.” And so, at about ten thousand feet, he said “Cur starboard outer.” Jock did the job. Then he said, “Cut port outer.” All the time he’s talking to us. He was piloting, George was stood beside him. This was at Sandtoft. He said, “Cut starboard inner.” We were a bit havy wavy now because we were flying on three engines.

He said, “Look, yer see, the Halifax is quite safe, it will fly on three engines – even on one engine. We can cut three.” He said, “Just to show yer how safe it is," he said to Jock, “Now be quick when I tell yer to start the engines up, but cut the port engine.” He cut the port engine and the officer said, “Look, we’re still flying, we’re gliding, we’re losing height." Suddenly, he said, “Right Jock, start Port inner, start Starboard inner, start Port outer, start Starboard outer." Jock did this and he took us round a couple o’ times and did various things. He said, “Y’see, this aircraft is quite safe."

We came in to land, and he said, “Right George, now it’s your turn.” So they swapped seats and they had a bit of a talk and then George took off whilst he sat beside George, passing out the instructions. He said, “I’m not going to tell yer to do all that I’ve done, I just want you to fly this aircraft.” He turned round to Jock and said, “You did one thing wrong when we were doing all those actions.” He said, “What’s that sir?” He sez, “When I got down to one engine, I put some boost on, you should have stopped me, you should have tapped my hand and knocked my knuckles and fetched a lever down to take the boost off.” “Oh, right sir.” So, George took us for a circuit round and landed, took off again, but George, as with the Wellingtons, when he touched down, the Halifax bounced two or three times. The Flight Lieutenant said, “Don’t worry about that, this fella can certainly fly, he’s done everything I’ve asked of him." He said, “I’ll fly with yer once more on a cross country trip, then I think he’ll be alright, he’ll be able to fly on his own.” So we did this and George did several things that were asked of him.

The bomber tried the bomb doors and the gunners tried the new type of gun turrets which we’d got because we only had one on a Wellington and there were two on a Halifax. They were different turrets with electric sights, they were quite good. The gunners soon got used to using them whilst the pilot was learning to fly the aeroplane. I was using the wireless to get fixes etc. The navigator was in there and he kept saying, “Sit down here Jack.” He taught me thoroughly how to use the G. Then he said, “Get me a fix from Alder Grove,” which I did, “Get me a fix from another place,” which I did. He showed me his maps and said, “That’s where I planned the route and we are bang on course."

Towards the end of April, he came on board one day and said, “I’m satisfied that your pilot is sufficiently conversant with the Halifax." He said, “Are you ready for coasting away?” So we thought we were going to go to a squadron. We’d got a full crew now, we’d got a flight engineer, navigator, bomb aimer, pilot, wireless operator and two gunners. He said, “You’re not going on a squadron yet.” We said, “Why not?” He said, “Because you’re going on to a Lancaster squadron.” That was a great relief for us” - we didn’t want to be on Halifaxes.

We were told we were going to be posted to the Number One Lancaster Finishing School at Hemswell. That meant we would be flying Lancasters on operations. We set off for Hemswell in the bus. When we got there, we noticed all the signs were in Polish. We enquired about this and the driver said, “Well, the Number One Polish Squad used to be here, but they’ve been moved."

We were to be billeted at a place called Number Three, Lancaster Green. That was the sergeant members of the crew. The officers were in the officers’ mess. We were given the chance to look around for a while and get used to things. The following day we were on orders to go flying. The point of this school was that our pilot, having learnt how to handle a Halifax, now had to learn to handle a Lancaster, which was much different, especially in the handling. Also, it was a much safer aeroplane we thought.

The Flight Sergeant joined us and introduced himself and annouced that he would be our pilot’s instructor during this course. During our stay there, we sampled the delights of the countryside between flights, but mostly, we were flying. A couple of days after we got there, we learnt that Flight Sergeant Robinson and crew, who’d been our mates at Castle Donnington, had crashed onto the police station at Kirton in Lindsey, and all were dead, which included my pal, Bill Harvey, but I couldn’t go and see them at that time, I couldn’t do anything. We had to carry on with what we were doing. We had a trip out to Lincoln and one to Market Rasen while we were there, otherwise, we’d go in the sergeants’ mess for a drink or down to the café.
We got stuck into this course, George did very well; a bit of trouble landing, which he always did, but he was a wonderful flyer, we knew that. The flight sergeant came to me one day and said, “You’re a wireless operator aren’t you?” I said, “Yes.” He took off his cap band and said, “Here you are, pin that on your tie, you might get into trouble some day, but that’s my good luck token for crews that I’ve instructed.” He said, “I’ve had two crews that have got through the tour, and they’ve come back here and given me the cap badge back. I hope you’ll do the same."

I promised I would do so if we survived, which we did and I took it back later.
We went on leave at the end of the course, then we reported back to Hemswell on the morning of June the sixth. We didn’t know at the time that the invasion had started, but, we got out and nobody said anything to us. We got into a crew bus at Hemswell and made a short journey to Ludford Magna where we’d been posted to 101 squadron, special duty. We didn’t know what this special duty meant, but we had an inkling. When we arrived at Ludford Magna, it was strangely quiet. There were people standing around and walking around, and as we got down from the bus, my old pal Art Wallace was there to greet me. They’d got there a couple of days before; they’d seen our names on the list of arrivals and they’d come to meet us. They hadn’t yet got their special operator, neither had we until later, but, it was a strange morning. The aircraft, we were told, had been flying all night without bombs, just doing the radio duties, jamming the German night fighter wavelengths and dropping bundles to fool the Germans into thinking there were about 2,000 aircraft going over Germany, which was successful apparently.

Later, the squadron flew at 25,000 feet on a rectangular course, we kept flying around. They only had six fighter contacts I think and only one was an action one. The Germans were fooled into thinking that something was going to happen in that part of the coast. There were 24 aircraft set off from 101 Squadron through this deception job. Three returned with either crew sickness or faulty aircraft and one that ditched in the sea was picked up by a destroyer, but the remainder flew around at 25,000 feet and did a wonderful job. Later, they were congratulated for saving the D-day landings from being a massacre, because while they were doing this, there were two other squadrons doing duties, making it look as is there were landings at different places along the coast from where they were going to be. There were 617 people from 100 Squadron who did a similar job to us, but not quite in the same vein, but they were part of Bomber Command.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
In the meantime, the slow aircraft which had been part of the invasion force, was going across and the invasion was starting to cross the channel, and 101 was keeping fighters away from them. Other aircraft were jamming the wavelengths of the defences, so all in all, it was a complete success. When these aircraft were returning to Ludford, they passed other aircraft with fighter escorts going back to the invasion beaches, so we knew that the invasion aircraft and the troops were safe from attacks from Germany.

So, we’d been posted to this squadron, and the aircraft were strangely decorate (unable to decipher the description and purpose of this........editor).
I started this story because, on the 18th of July, 1978, following a request by Dennis Goodliffe for funds to erect a memorial stone, enough funds were received, to put up this memorial stone and also to get a book of remembrance. A flight lieutenant historian from the squadron, spent many hours in the cold going to Lincoln Cathedral and to air ministry records to make sure that every name that was intended to be in the book, was there. That was just a small point and to answer anyone who says, “Who formed the association?” the first air marshal, a former commander was invited to unveil the memorial stone. Dennis Goodliffe had organised everything and he continues now, after all these years.

Returning to the story:- We arrived at 101 and were informed about what had been happening via a tannoy announcement, and we wandered about, learning all about the place and the surrounding countryside for a few days, and then we were appointed a special operator. I suppose Alan Wallace was a special operator (he’s now resident in Spain). Our special operator was Colin York, a Lancashire lad, one of our traditional enemies, me being a Yorkshireman. We had much banter about this; the navigator used to join in and I used to argue with him. I used to say, “The wireless operator is the only man in this crew with a trade,” and he’d retort with: “Wireless operator isn’t a trade, it’s a bloody disease.” This is the way we carried on and we went on tests and little flights around to familiarise ourselves, and Colin York practised his business. He had two receivers and a transmitter, sited in the fuselage aft of the bulkhead between the wireless operator and the mid upper gunners *******(?). He had no windows to look out of like I did. He used to operate a receiver that had a white strobe, which moved backwards and forwards every fifteen seconds. When it lit up, it indicated that it was onto of these German stations from the Kabugelite (?). He would lock onto it, tune the transmitter, and jam the frequency with a sort of wigwag noise. He could do this three times; he had three transmitters.
We gradually became acclimatised with Colin. Then came the 29th of June and we were thought to be fully fit to go on operations, and that was to be our first operation. It was to be SRP-Peter-W4967, the aircraft a 1942 vintage which had taken the place of the former P-Peter, which had been shot down during a raid on the 16th of June, almost a fortnight previously. The trip was to be to Sarrecort, which is in the Pas-de-Calais area. For about three weeks now, the V1 flying bombs had been creating havoc around the south of England, and it was decided that we would try to take the launch sites out. Sarrecort was a big launch site. If we gained height, there was nowehere safe, in fact the sky was full of aircraft coming the other way, to-ing and fro-ing from Sarrecort; this was a huge raid. As we approached the target, each aircraft had very accurate predictor flack coming at it. When our bomb doors were open and we started our bombing run, predictors started to get onto us, and they appeared to be at our height when.....left right, steady, bombs gone, the aircraft lifted upwards and George turned to port, and as we did so and dived, the predictors were bursting where we would have been a second later. So George did a very good job there and we got out of range. On the whole, it was a very good bombing, but the V1 bombs continued to come, there must have been dozens of launch pads down there.

30th of June, 1944: We were scheduled to bomb the first of many targets in marshalling yards, at a place just outside Paris. The idea of bombing these marshalling yards was to deny the enemy the use of any reinforcements that might be coming up by rail. On this night, we flew in LM 462-V squared. We took off and we gradually made height and headed towards Paris, and as we headed towards the target, our mid upper gunner said, “Jack, just have a look out.” There were two little handles, one each side, and I looked out and I dared not sit down, I was absolutely scared to death. For the whole way, as far as I could see, was a wall of flack and we were heading straight into it. Dai did his usual left, left, right, right stuff, and we flew through the flack with not even a touch. I was scared to death, but we never got touched at all. Nothing burst near to us although it looked so fierce. Now, with bombs gone, we turned for home. Was I relieved when we got away from that flack?

3rd of July was more of the marshalling yard target, this time, to Orleans, on an aircraft SRT-LM472, taking off at 2245. We crossed the coast at Dieppe. There seemed to be fighter contacts all around, which was only natural. Anyway, down to Orleans where we found the target and we had a good bombing run, turned for home. There were still many fighter contacts, but fortunately, none with us, we managed to steer clear of them right up to the coast at Dieppe, then the attacks ceased.

We went to another marshalling yard near Paris, but this time, we used an aircraft that we came to think of as our own: SRZ-LL756, taking off at 2225. This was a very good operation and we made a good attack. We didn’t encounter any fighters that night, and the duration of the flight was 5 hours, 25 minutes. This had been a good introduction to night time bombing, these three marshalling yards, we were quite pleased.

Once more a marshalling yard, a place called Ravinie. It wasn’t too far inland, but our route was to take us across the coast at Dieppe once more. We’d all the usual fighter contacts and we’d some planes going down. We’d to head for Dijon. As we approached Dijon, we turned east, as if going towards Stuttgart, then suddenly turned north towards to Bon Ravinie. This time, once again, we were in LM 462. This was a long trip and most aircraft did not manage to find a target, and we were among them, yet, the duration of our flight that night was the longest operation we’d ever flown: 9 hours and 5 minutes in total. But there had been many aircraft lost whilst looking for the target.

Back at Ludford, from this trip, we were told to divert to Wigsley. The reason being that it was such heavy mist, and so many aircraft had gone to Ludford, that there was no room for us to land, so we landed at an American aerodrome at Wigsley, just outside Lincoln. We didn’t stay there long, only until the next day when most of the aircraft had gone fron Ludford.

Next was a daylight raid to Lordeville, not a very long trip, but this time in SRA-LM478. We did a good job, hardly had any trouble and got back safely.

On the 18th of July, we took off for our first trip into Germany to the Ruhr Valley, the Happy Valley, as we called it. There was all sorts of things in the Ruhr Valley, so we just bombed what we were told to bomb. We took off at 2230 I believe, it was a trip of 5 hours duration. It was in our old faithful SRZ LL756. Quite a harrowing trip, but not too bad, but we were glad to get back home safe.

This had been a good introduction to night time bombing, these three marshalling yards, we were quite pleased.

Once more a marshalling yard, a place called Ravinie. It wasn’t too far inland, but our route was to take us across the coast at Dieppe once more. We’d all the usual fighter contacts and we’d some planes going down. We’d to head for Dijon. As we approached Dijon, we turned east, as if going towards Stuttgart, then suddenly turned north towards to Bon Ravinie. This time, once again, we were in LM 462. This was a long trip and most aircraft did not manage to find a target, and we were among them, yet, the duration of our flight that night was the longest operation we’d ever flown: 9 hours and 5 minutes in total. But there had been many aircraft lost whilst looking for the target.

Back at Ludford, from this trip, we were told to divert to Wigsley. The reason being that it was such heavy mist, and so many aircraft had gone to Ludford, that there was no room for us to land, so we landed at an American aerodrome at Wigsley, just outside Lincoln. We didn’t stay there long, only until the next day when most of the aircraft had gone fron Ludford.

Next was a daylight raid to Lordeville, not a very long trip, but this time in SRA-LM478. We did a good job, hardly had any trouble and got back safely.

On the 18th of July, we took off for our first trip into Germany to the Ruhr Valley, the Happy Valley, as we called it. There was all sorts of things in the Ruhr Valley, so we just bombed what we were told to bomb. We took off at 2230 I believe, it was a trip of 5 hours duration. It was in our old faithful SRZ LL756. Quite a harrowing trip, but not too bad, but we were glad to get back home safe.

Now a trip to ‘Happy Valley’; one storage depot and two factories, four hours duration this one. We’re taking off at 2230 hours. Once again, a memorable trip, no serious damage to us and we got safely back, and we’d done a good piece of bombing, according to our intelligence officer.

23rd July, once more in LL756-SLZ: We were ordered to Kiel. We were told that after the 1st World War, following attacks at Kiel, a rebellion had been caused which helped shorten the end of the war, but in this case, it didn’t happen. We were ordered to bomb Kiel, to bomb the old town and set many fires going, in the hope of causing a rebellion this time, but it didn’t happen. To get to Kiel this time, we made many diversions heading towards Kiel without going inland.

We bombed Kiel, then came safely back home. We had much flak, but no fighter contact. This was to be my last trip before going home on leave, potentially to get married, but it didn’t happen because I was asked to do another trip before I went on leave.

On the 24th of July, the trip of about 8 hours duration was to Stuttgart. We took off and all the A.P.C. operators were working fully, and we had a more or less, uneventful trip to Stuttgart.

We didn’t make any contacts at all. We bombed the tool factory as ordered, then set off back. Shortly after leaving Stuttgart -the special operators were still operating- we came into a layer between two clouds. Our skipper said to the navigator, “Give me any change of course, but do not change height or direction anywhere.” We never saw another aircraft all the way back to England. A fine piece of flying by George. He was a good pilot, although we didn’t like him personally, but he was a good pilot. So, we landed back; I believe it was 8 hours duration. After we landed, I had breakfast then a couple of hours sleep, then went to get my leave pass, to go home and get married. I was supposed to have got married on the 29th of July. As it happened, this had been called off, which I didn’t know until I arrived home. I got home on the afternoon of the 25th. Of course, I enjoyed the leave, but I didn’t like the idea of having to wait to get married. I was told that it’d been changed to the 31st of July, then to the 1st of August and eventually, it happened on the 3rd of August. I was told to go back off leave shortly after that. I was due back on the Saturday, but after a wonderful wedding and the gathering of friends and relations. We got married and stood on the steps of the Wicker Congregational Church on Gower Street in Sheffield, and we were having photographs taken when the telegram lad came up with two telegrams. The first one was from my granddad, wishing us every happiness. The other one was from the squadron. “Be back on the camp by 8 o’clock on Saturday morning for operations."

Well, I didn’t want to go back, I’d just got married. On Friday, the fourth, Beattie said to me, “Look Jack, you’ve got to go back,” she said, “We can’t have a honeymoon, I’ll go to Ivy’s on the farm outside Boston. I’ll go as far as Louth with yer, then you make your way to Ludford.” This was agreed finally, so Beattie went on her own honeymoon. I learnt later that she’d been potato picking that week. I got a lift so far towards Ludford, then another lift up to Ludford, and I got there just before 8 o’clock just in time to meet the boys who were all going up for briefing. The briefing was for a daylight raid, a special one, to a place called Blain, in the Bay of Biscay. I didn’t like the idea, but I was in the bombers and I had to do my duty.

After briefing, we went for a meal, and shortly after that, we took off. We flew down towards Land’s End, flying in formation. As we approached Land’s End, we came down to sea level, wound out the trailing aerial before we reached the actual end of the land. We went farther down until the meters flickered in front of me, showing the aerial was earthed. We were flying at exactly 50 feet, which was 50 feet less than the aircraft altimeter showed. In this way, we continued on a course 50 miles from the French coast and flying at sea level. We couldn’t see the horizon at that level. Every time the needle flickered, I said, “Now Skipper,” and he pulled the nose up a little, so we were flying at more or less fifty feet. We weren’t flying into the sea because I let the skipper know every time the needles touched.

On the way down, suddenly, the navigator gave a change of course, and we went down from the west towards Blain. We climbed to 3,000 feet, then we dropped our bombs. The concentration was on oil storage tanks at an oil depot. We were among the first to bomb, so we dropped our bombs. We reeled in the trailing aerial, and once more, down to treetop level and we hedgehopped all the way up France. All guns were pointed upwards, so there wasn’t much danger of getting shot down, but there was danger of being shot from below by some gunner or machine gunner. We hedgehopped all the way to the Cherbourg Peninsula which the Germans were holding. As we approached Cherbourg, there was a huge cloud of dust that obscured the ground below, and we thought it was the Germans attacking the Americans. I was going to report it; I broke radio silence then, but before I got a couple of letters out, I was told: “Get off the area you bloody fool.” So I did

We got away from Cherbourg, climbed up to a normal height, and as we approached Ludford, we reported in and I got a message telling us to divert. I told the skipper and he said, “Where to?” I looked at my code book and it said, ‘Divert to Leicester East.’ Right alongside the code for Leicester East was a code for Castle Donnington, one letter difference. I told the skipper this. We had a crew conference and we decided that I will be to blame. The pilot said, “What will happen if you tell us the wrong place?” I said, “Oh, they’ll give me a wireless test, it’ll be alright.” We landed at Castle Donnington. This had been the longest daylight raid of the war I believe. The moment we landed, there was a tractor out there to tow us to a dispersal far away from prying eyes and huge tarpaulins were put over the entire aircraft, so that no one could see it. People had seen us coming in, but we strutted around that place as if we were God’s gift to the RAF. Operational types landed at an OUT. The instructors at Castle Donnington had been on 101 squadron, so we had a good laugh about it, but to us it was a special occasion.

The day after, we were told that we could report back to Ludford Magna. The aircraft was uncovered, they drove us round to it and we started up, proceeded round the perimeter track and as we approached the take off point, we realised that practically the whole station was out, lining both sides of the runway to see this strange aircraft with a big mast. Anyway, we took off and they were waving and cheering to us. We were so very grateful for the reception we’d received. The skipper said, “I’m goina go round and do ‘em an overshoot and waddle the wings.” So we went back round and we came along the line of the runway. There were crowds of people all the way along the runway, both sides. He waddled his wings for them and we waved to them and they waved back to us, and off we came back to Ludford. We reported to the intelligence officer with the result of our bombing and it appears that we’d done a very good job.

We’d flown at such a low level, and fifty miles from the French coast too, we were actually flying below the radar screen all the way down there before we bombed. Of course, they knew we were there after we’d bombed, but that’s another tale.

On the 7th of August, we were scheduled to go to Fontenet. We took off and we were almost at the target when we were recalled, so we set off back. That wasn’t even counted as an operation, even though we’d been over the vicinity of the target when we were recalled.

On the 9th of August, we were told we were going to bomb Forret de Nievre. There had been sightings of German tanks going into this forest and no tracks coming out, so obviously, the German tanks were in the forest, probably waiting in ambush. Once again in LL756, this was a night mission. We took off and made our way to this forest, and on arrival, our orders were to bomb to the right of the red indicator. Most of the bombs were incendiaries. So, we did our bombing which was quite a good bombing, and when we got back, we learned from intelligence the next day that it’d been a very good raid and that the forest was completely destroyed and no German tanks had been seen to come out of the forest.

We were told at briefing that the previous night, a force had gone to Brunswick, navigated by H2S, and by mistake, had bombed elsewhere instead of bombing Brunswick due to the contours that were shown on the HOS machines. And so, we were to be sent back that night to do our job, but navigated by dead reckoning, so as to make sure we got to the target. We’d thirteen thousand pounds of bombs on board. We set off for Brunswick with all the usual palaver on the way there, but then, immediately after turning for home, the navigator said to me, “Jack, have you heard any broadcasts about high winds?” He said, “Well I’ve got indication that there’s a very high wind; a cross wind and a head wind.” He estimated that it was about 200 miles an hour, which meant that instead of going forwards, we were going sideways. We were going slightly forward, and eventually, we were coned in searchlights over Brennen, miles from our usual course. We were in the searchlight cones and the ack-ack was firing at us, and we were in these searchlights for eight minutes. All the while, the rear gunner reported that there were two fighters shadowing us. Of course, they wouldn’t attempt to attack us while the flack was coming up, but after eight minutes, the skipper decided that he would dive. He said, “Hold tight lads, I’m going into a dive to get out of these lights.”

He did tell me recently that when he dived, the needle went off the clock, which I think was about 400 miles an hour, so he didn’t know how fast we were diving, but we got out of the lights, and when we eventually folded up, others on the course across, hadn’t. Suddenly, there was an almighty bump: we didn’t know what it was; we didn’t think we’d been hit, but it felt as if we’d been hit. Anyway, we carried on and made for home. We reported it: the ground crew said, “There seems to be a lot of little holes, but we can’t see anything else.” We thought, “That’s not bad, none of us was hit.” The wireless maintenance man said, “Jack, I want you to come with me a minute.” He said, “You reported a bump. Well, there’s a huge piece of shrapnel that’s entered the fuselage, just forward of the rear turret, and gone along the bomb bay, making a bit o’ wreckage and through the top o’ the bulkhead and settled into your seat.” I didn’t know this. He said, “Would yer like it as a souvenir?” I said, “No thanks, you have it if yer want.” So he kept it. I don’t know what the name of that fella was, but he was one of our own ground staff. In addition to the shrapnel finds, someone pointed out to us that there were bits of twigs and leaves in the engines, which suggested that we’d had a further stroke of luck, because we must have pulled out of a dive very close to the top of some trees.

15th of August, we were very busy. This was a daylight operation and our bomb load consisted of very high explosives of various types to a total of 13,000 pounds and we were fly out and receive a fighter escort. We climbed to a height of about 16 or 17 thousand feet, we met the fighters over the channel and we proceeded to Holland. There was a night fighter aerodrome with lots of night fighters about. I’m afraid we spoilt their lunch because we arrived overhead at about 12 o’clock. The master bomber marked the target and we were ordered to bomb a certain marker that was on the intersection of the three runways. This we did from 17,000 feet and with devastating effect. All our bombs appeared to hit the target area. We were so pleased about this, but then we had to circle around because our job this day was to do a line overlap to prove what the bombing had done. We had to wait until the last aircraft had bombed and then we did our line overlap. We were escorted once more by the spitfires, so we felt quite safe. The scene below seemed totally devastated, it didn’t seem as if there was an aircraft anywhere that hadn’t been touched.

On the 16th of August, a night trip, a very dangerous night trip this one. This time to bomb Stettin. There was an indication that wherever possible, paddle bladed props were to be fitted and we hoped that by this time, ours would be, but it was not to be. However, this was to be the last trip before paddle bladed props were to be fitted. They gave a distinct advantage when gaining height. But, we had to go and do the job, so off we went to do it. We set out en route across the North Sea towards Denmark, across a bit of Norway, up to Sweden, at a very good height – above 20,000 feet I believe. Our route was to take us down Sweden and across the Baltic Sea to bomb this port of Stettin. Swedish fighters came up alongside us, not to attack us but to escort us and make sure we didn’t go any farther, and probably to help keep the German fighters from us. So, we crossed the Baltic Sea, and there were already fires burning when we got there, but we dropped our bombs and there seemed utter devastation; there were fires all over the place, but as we turned and headed back up towards Sweden, we could see the fires for miles and miles.

As we reached Sweden again, the fighters escorted us once more to our turning point, and we turned to come back along the route we’d travelled, although there were odd fighters about in these other areas outside, no-one attacked us whilst we were over Sweden. There were odd attacks, but we didn’t have any. We came back home across the North Sea, and we relied on Jock to get us back to Britain at least – we knew it was touch and go whether we’d arrive at Ludford or not, or if we’d run out of fuel. But anyway, he got us back to Ludford. I believe that when we landed, we had five minutes’ fuel left. Until we went on operations again, our aircraft – the props were being altered, fitted with paddle blades. We were on standby whilst this was being done – to fly in other aircraft if needed. This was the case. During the Normandy campaign, we had to be on standby. We never stood down as a squadron all throughout this period. The odd crews stood down, but they weren’t on leave, but a squadron as a whole never stood down.

We go forward now to the 29th of August: our planed had had the paddle blade props fitted and we’d flown in her. It was lovely to be able to get up to 29,000 feet, we really liked that. We could avoid a lot of the damage if we could do this. We were scheduled to return to Stettin. This time was a little different from last time because approximately one hour before we were due to set off, and head for Poland, there was another large raid that was going to Kolamisburg in East Prussia. These were to take the exact same route across the North Sea and turn round by the Baltic, so we expected that when we got into that area, the fighters would already be up, which they were, but as we approached the Danish area, there were fighters about, but none attacked us. We made our way along the same route as before, across Sweden and came down to bomb Stettin, but this time, there was a difference. The paddle blades allowed us to climb up to 29,000 feet on occasions. When we got to 29,000 feet, there were huge bangs and bumps as ice fell from the propellers, and each time this happened, the pilot had to settle for a lower position until the ice cleared, then up again. It was a seesaw trip, but anyway, we managed it alright. We bombed Stettin, but as we set out again up Sweden and back across the North Sea, once again the fighters were in evidence. When we got back this night, they burnt the fuel out to a T, but we were comfortable; we got back to Ludford, as did most of the others.

Pilot Officer Piperel, in SRW, was one who did not return from that trip. I’ve recently met his brother from Canada, and had a chat with him, and I used to write to him, when I could see, but I’m blind now, so I can’t. It was great to be in his company and to be able to help him with some details about his brother.

On the 31st of August, we were off once again, this time to Saint Ricoa, in Manchester LL756 once more, our own SRZ. This target was a dumpsite for the latest V2 rockets, and it had been reported by the French people as to where it was, so we set off to go there and try to destroy this site, and we made a thoroughly good job of doing so. We arrived back at 1717 and we were quite pleased about the good job we’d made of the operation, because these V2 rockets were the ones that were fired up into the atmosphere and then came down onto London. They weren’t particular as to where abouts in London, just so long as they came down on London.

Off once again, on the 3rd of September, to another aerodrome in Holland. We went of at 1553 and down again at 2013. I’m pleased to say that once more, we made a good attack and we got back safely. On the 5th of September, we went to Le Havre to bomb the German headquarters. We made a good job of that, total flying time was only 3 hours 25 minutes. We went to Le Havre again on the 6th of September. We set off there, but we were more or less only half way along the bombing strip this time. We took off at 1748 and came back down at 2050. this was the day that we had a full complement of bombs on board, and as we approached the channel, we were told by the master bomber to return, as enough damage had been done the previous day and up to the time that we got there that day, we were to take our bombs back and land with them, so our skipper said, “Right lads, I don’t like this idea, but we’ve got a lot of bombs on board, I think there’s 13,000 pounds of ‘em, but I’m not sure, but we’ll see if we can be first back because we don’t want the whole squadron on this job.”

He anticipated that there would be some trouble when we got back home, so after 3 hours and 5 minutes, we were back home. We’d raced to get back and we were first back. But as we got back to Ludford, we called in, and as we actually got preparing to land, we could actually see the windsock blowing, so the pilot called in and asked for permsiion to land, and they said, “Yes, yer can land on (I believe it was) runway 2 – 0.” He queried it because they were landing us downwind, so the skipper queried the order the voice came: “This is Group Captain King, you will land as ordered.” Group Captain King, at that time, was sitting in his bungalow at the top of the village, but he was connected up and he interceded with flying control orders.

So, on his orders, we proceeded and the skipper said, “Now lads, I don’t think we’ll be able to manage this, so, as soon as we touch down, get into craft positions, because I know we shan’t be able to stop, not with the wind behind us. Flying into the wind, we may have had a chance but flying downwind, no chance.” So we landed at the extreme beginning of the runway, and I knew we wouldn’t be able to stop anyway, so, came the order from the skipper to the engineer, “Wheels up.” We were down belly landing then, bumping and banging along, sparks flying outside, we didn’t know what was happening. As we approached the end of the runway, it was impossible for us to stop, we were in craft positions, and we were soon off the end of the runway taking the tido pipes (sp?) with us, rising over the crest of the hill, and down towards the Black Horse in the village, where we came to rest.

I’d already anticipated that we’d to get out quickly, so, I was half way along the fuselage when Don dropped out of his turret in front of me and we went out of the door and passed Colin along the way; he hadn’t got out of his seat when I passed. Out of the door, then we set off running, and Don said, “Eyup Jack, Ginger,” – the rear gunner, y’see, when there was any anticipation of a crash, the rear gunner was to turn his gun turret sideways, so that he could roll forward over the guns, and out – he said, “Ginger’s stuck, look.” We both turned back, I got there first and I gave the quick release on his armour, a bang and down Ginger fell, between the guns, onto the floor. The three of us set off across the runway with no thoughts of any danger. We knew other aircraft would be landing, but we’d no thoughts for that. All our thoughts were of the bombs on board and they were glowing red hot beneath the aircraft, we could see that, so we set off and ran across the runway into flying control. Shortly afterwards, the rest of the crew arrived with a crash tender, and we were already drinking our cups of coffee by this time, but I can tell you this, WE were the first to do the four minute mile, not the famous doctor. We did a four minute mile with our harnesses on. But that was that.

This incident was on the 6th of September and as far as we were concerned, it was a complete write-off. We’d no aircraft of our own for the present, we anticipated having to fly another aircraft; this we did. On the 12th of September, with the NS 954, a brand new W. Willey, we were detailed to go to Stuttgart. Once again, we knew this would be a long trip, so we set off down towards southern Germany, taking off at 1855 and came down at 0222 – a flying time of 7 hours and 27 minutes. It was a very good attack; we hit the works and industrial areas we’d been sent to do, and so now, we were well on the way to finishing our tour.

Following this trip, we had a meal in the sergeants’ mess and then made our way up to the billets, where we found two other crews in our sleeping quarters, besides our own. There was clashing and banging and all sorts of noises going on. When we arrived there, we found out the sleeping hut had been invaded by earwigs, just thousands of them, so whilst it was cleared out by some of the ground staff personnel, using paraffin etc., we were down in the sergeants’ mess, drinking tea and sleeping in the chairs, until the all clear came the following morning.

The next trip was to the Ruhr Valley, a very short trip really because it was straight there and straight back. The total flying time was 3 hours and 51 minutes, but this was in Lancaster 3 NF 954 SRW, the brand new aeroplane that we’d taken over a couple of days before. The bombing was very concentrated and we did a very good job.

On the 17th of September, in the same aircraft, to an island off the coast of Europe. The reason for bombing this place was the big guns that were making the supply lines very difficult up the coast. Our bombs undershot the target, we were after the big guns, but half of them undershot. Some knocked the guns out, but the others made a break in the sea wall, which was a start of what was to happen later on when further raids caused considerable flooding.

On the 23rd of September, we went to a place called Neus. This was likened to a place the size of Rotherham by the briefing officer, when he gave his information. It was very concentrated bombing and I’d be surprised if anyone was alive after this, because it was a large force that went there, and we all dropped our bombs on the target and there were fires and allsorts going on down below.

On the next operation, we were in support of the people of Dover because the guns that had been firing across the channel to Dover, were based at Cap Gris Nez, just a short distance across the channel. We were up at 1114 and down at 1349. It was intended that once and for all, the guns at Cap Gris Nez should be silenced. Once again, this was an F954. It was a wonderful attack, and what pleased us most was that on that occasion, the gunners were allowed to fire at anything down below, if they saw anything. I don’t know whether our gunners did or not, but it was a concentrated attack. I’m pleased to say that in the Daily Express, the next morning, there were photographs on the front page of guns with their barrels broken, all down on the floor. This was great because these went back and forwards on a railing; they sheltered under the cliffs, whatever, we managed to cop ‘em that day.

On the fifth of October, we flew in a brand new Lancaster, SRZ, a replacement for the one that we’d crashed on the sixth of September. I didn’t go on this one, but the rest of my crew did and I understand it was a very good mission. On the ninth of October, 1944, I happened to walk across to the wireless section to find out if I could get on a spare trip, to catch up with my crew. In there was Flying Officer Hoults, he said his crew had already done 29 operations and were looking for a wireless operator for their last one, as their own wireless operator had already done thirty trips and did not want to fly with them, so, there was a young wireless operator, new on the station. The Flying Officer said to the wireless leader, “I’m not taking him, he’s never been on any operations, and this will be our last operation.” He said, “And I want to come off it.” As I walked in, he said, “Oh, hello Jack, what yer doing here? I’m looking for a wireless operator for our last trip.” I said, “Well, I’ve come to volunteer for a spare trip, so I can catch my own crew. They went to Sarbrucken and I want to do a trip to catch them up.” “Oh,” he said, “I’ll be ever so pleased to take you with us.” He sez, “I know you’re well on your way to finishing your tour, we’ll be very pleased to take you with us.” And that was it. The target this time was Bochum, a steel town similar to Sheffield. We were off at 1732 and down at 2228. We bombed the marker flares and we were supposed to be bombing the oil tanks, but I think we hit most of the steelworks as well but, there were numerous fires among the oil tanks. I was a little uneasy on this trip because this crew wasn’t as disciplined as my own crew. My own crew only spoke when we needed to, this lot were shouting and talking to one another all the time and in fact, we almost got shot down because of this. I was giving direction of a fighter coming in our direction to attack us and they just weren’t interested, these two gunners. The pilot told them to shut up and listen to what I’d got to say. But we avoided this fighter attack, we turned our guns towards it and off he went, he didn’t attack us. But I was so worried about getting back, especially with this crew being on their last trip.

But I was worried about getting back, especially with this crew being on their last trip.

Every year at reunion, Flight Officer Holmes comes and shakes my hand and tells people, “This lad helped me to get through my tour.” I’m so proud of that.
Before I’d chance to once again fly with my own crew, on the 14th of October, I was detailed to fly with Officer Simpson, a Canadian, on a daylight mission to Diesburg. We took off at 0622 and landed back at 1110. On his report, this officer reported that he’d made a good attack. Well, this was not the case because as we approached Diesberg, we were given the codeword ‘Freelance’ by the master bomber, which read, “Don bombed Diesburg, look around for another target to bomb.” Oh very well, we did this, and we saw a circular looking town with a beady inner centre, with streets running off to the centre but every other road was a circular one. I know this because while they were talking about I, I got up and had a look. They decided that they would bomb this, it must be a works or something, so we bombed a building in the centre of town. I was quite surprised when I was secretary later on, reading some reports, to find out that this officer reported that if you bomb visually, you made a good attack, which he did but he wasn’t on Diesburg, it was just a small town.

The next trip was at last, to be back with my own crew, on the 15th of October, and we were in SRZNG129, our new aircraft. The rest of the crew had all flown in it once before to Sarbrucker. This time it was to be at Wilhelmshaven, the port at Wilhelmshaven – off at 1740 and back at 2146. The funny thing about this was that after we’d been to briefing, my wife rang up. The officer said, “Go to yer lodgings, you know where to go.” I said, “I’ll see yer when I get back.” After this attack, which was a very good attack for us, I borrowed a pilot’s bicycle, and although there were no white lines or other indication, no cat’s eyes on the road, I cycled the 12 miles to Louth. I could just discern the difference between the tarmac and the grass at the side of the road, and so really, I went into almost every gateway on the way into Louth, but anyway, I got there.

On the 19th of October, once more in NG129, off to Stuttgart once more, at 1711 and down at 0000. On this trip we carried one 4,000 pounder and a load of high explosives. The usual good attack, and we didn’t get much trouble at all on this trip; there and back without any interference from the Germans, and it was really a pleasure to get back. On this trip, the skipper said he’d had a ‘marmalade’ from the master bomber, which meant, ‘turn back and don’t bomb, but the wireless op. told the skipper that there was no marmalade that day, because a master bomber never used a code word twice. We’d already had ‘marmalade’ on a previous trip. This was the Germans trying to turn us back, but after an argument with the skipper saying……..”who’s pilot of this aircraft?” the wireless operator insisted that if they turn back, he’ll be reporting the skipper and of course that would have meant a court martial, so, he decided to listen to the wireless op. The wireless op was me.

The next trip, which we expected to be our last one, was to be to Essen, kicking off at 1634 and back down at 2249, but on this occasion, although we carried a crew kit and a number of high explosives, the thing went wrong. For instance, just across the coast, the starboard outer started playing up and had to be feathered. We had a crew conference and we decided that we’d carry on, and that we’d make it towards Essen and not making it in very good time, but then one of the other engines started playing up. We were well on the way to Essen by this time, and as we approached the target area, the bomb doors were opened. As we went to try and bomb, we couldn’t drop the bombs. For some reason, we couldn’t drop them, probably due to this starboard outer, but the bombs had all been primed. We circled around Essen and we abandoned the mission, some 20 or so miles south of Essen, and returned home. On the way home, we heard that there was a lever by the side of the wireless operation position, which when pumped backwards and forwards would enable the bombs to be dropped, but in our case, it didn’t happen. Although we pumped and pumped, nothing happened, so we were in a bit of a stew now because the starboard engine started kicking up and had to be feathered again. When we were pumping the lever, we didn’t know what was going to happen when we landed anyway, and as we got back to base, we were told to report to Carnaby, a grassland station just south of Bridlington. This was a five mile long crash land strip. The navigator informed the pilot that we were just over the cliffs and that they were fifty feet high, so the pilot in hiss wisdom decided, “Right, if the cliffs are fifty feet high, then we go out to sea and come back in with a trailing aerial out. We shall then be flying at fifty feet, so………..” It’s very dicey, but we made our way in and he sez, “I’m not going to try and land it, I’m going to fly it on.” And he did just that; it was a really brilliant piece of piloting, more so because as we were approaching this crash landing strip, we heard a broadcast from somewhere below which someone had left their finger out, it said, “Lancaster bomber coming in to land, may explode. Clear the airfield.” Well that didn’t sound very promising for us. The skipper came to the fore and we all did as we were told and I said to the skipper, “Are we down yet Skipper?” He said, “Yes, I’m going to just taxi off the end of the runway and cut the engines and let the ground staff look after us.” I thought, “Well, that’s brilliant, after the way I’d slated him about not being able to land, about thumping up and down, and when we needed him, he just turned up trumps.

We were in Bridlington, John Arthur lent us a bit o’ money so we could go into Bridlington. There was barbed wire all along the seafront and along the rails, and we did manage to get down to see one of the two high powered rescue boats which were kept in the harbour there. The skipper allowed us to go aboard and look round, that’s the skipper of the boat I’m talking about, but then we came back and we went to visit some friends of Dan and Ginger who were billeted on Windsor Crescent,

Eventually, whatever was wrong with the Lancaster, they got it right and the next day, they got the bombs off and got the aircraft fit to take off and fly back to Ludford. We were pleased about that because we knew we would have to fly another trip in place of that. That was an aborted trip and it should have been our last. We’d been over the Ruhr Valley for nothing. Anyway, on the 28th of October, we were on a daylight mission again. This time, once again, SRZNG 129, the target was to be a bridge across the river at Cologne. Our orders were that whatever happened, we must bomb the bridge by proceeding down river, or up river, I don’t know which, we must not let any bombs fall on the Cathedral, but we must put that bridge out of action. I don’t know how high we were, we were very high up when we dropped our bombs. The rear gunner reported, “OK, it’s a direct hit, we’ve hit the bridge.” Our later photographs showed that we had indeed hit the bridge, but on our target photograph, there was also another aircraft down below. Whenever I met Jerry Murphy after that, he was slated for trying to kill us. His aircraft, S sugar, the famous S sugar, it lasted until the middle of March before it got shot down. It was as plain as anything in our target photograph. Well, we did not bomb the Cathedral.

When we got back, we’d a committee waiting for us when we taxied back to dispersal. The squadron commander was there with a huge yellow flag depicting the name, ‘Harrison Rebels’ a skull and crossbones and we learned after that this flag had been made of ties, cut off from the officers in the officers’ mess by the lady officers, then stitched together. Then the Wing Commander said, “Now then Morley, you’re the biggest rebel of the lot, get hold of this and get on the front row,” which I did. We had our photograph taken with all our ground crew. The ground crew and the aircrew were all together. We’d at long last finished our operations. He also said that he’d deposited some money in the sergeants’ mess, “………enough to last yer all night, so get yer friends and enjoy yer first night without worrying about going on operations.

At last, we collected our kit together and received congratulations all round. The skipper came round the day after and said, “The three officers have been awarded the DFC,” and he said, “There’s one DFM to be awarded among the sergeants.” He came to me and said, “Would you like it?” I said, “I wouldn’t, I’ve already had one DFM taken off me for being a naughty boy.” I was recommended once before but I went to watch a football match, and they found out I was away so, that was that. He said, “Alright then, if you don’t want it, I’ll go and see the others.” He went round all the five sergeants and every one of them refused it. I was so pleased, and yet, I was so sorry for little Jock, ‘cos little Jock………..there were three officers in the front of the cockpit of the aeroplane, and there was little Jock, the flight engineer who was always beside the pilot, and I was wireless op., and we were all forward of the bulkhead, all five of us, but three officers were awarded the DFC. The sergeants got nothing and I thought, if anyone should have got a medal other than the officers, it should have been the flight engineer who’d worked in the midst of them the whole tour. I missed one trip with them, but he’d been with them all the time. But anyway, we didn’t get a DFM, so that was that!

I moved to various places after that, grounded about, different stations, different jobs, but I never forgot that. As we’d finished our tour, we were to go on an extended leave. We got a month’s pay and it was indefinite leave, and whilst I was at home, I used to go up to Norton Aerodrome, only a small – it wasn’t a flying aerodrome – an RAF establishment, and I used to go up there once a fortnight to draw my pay.

Eventually, towards the end of January, I was told that I’d to report back to RAF Wing, in Buckinghamshire, but not before I’d been to Ludford Magna and got my papers cleared. So it was in February when I went back to Ludford. The first person I saw when I got to headquarters was Dai Jones, our bomber sporting his DFC. We had a chat and he told me that John Arthur, the navigator wasn’t still on the aerodrome, the same as him. Dai was the bombing leader at the time, but John Arthur was instructing on flying techniques, for all the group, so he would be staying there. I don’t know where the skipper went to. I did my clearance, reported back and was taken by a little van down to the station, down to Market Rasen, and then got on a train with instructions on how to get to Buckinghamshire, to RAF Wing, near Leighton Buzzard. It was quite a journey there, but anyway, I reported in finally. Wing village was a wonderful little place with a beautiful church. For the next two years, I was to be an instructor, a flying instructor. The first job I got, the week after I got there – I was made a flight sergeant – I had to do a lecture. The lecture I gave them was about my job as a crucible furnace man, and gave them all the details of what the crucible furnaces were all about with the teaming and building the fires, and all things like that.

The warrant officer was standing at the back of the room and he came forward and said, “That was a very good lecture, would yer like to do it again?” I said, “No sir.” It was quite a job trying to remember everything. He said, “Anyway, you’ll be flying in future, not everyday, just when needed. You can instruct these other lads because we were at Castle Donnington 28 OUT and RAF Wing was 26 OUT, and we were still training wireless operators.

A few months later, at the end of May, the war in Europe was over, so they didn’t need these wireless operators, so for quite a long time, they were fooling about, going from village to village boozing and all sorts o’ things, up and down to different places. Whilst I was there, I learnt that some of the big banking millionaires lived next door to Wing. Fred Darling stables were in the village, and that year, come Derby year, we were still there, we would do periods in the flying clothing store and various duties on camp, when we weren’t flying, but, always on the bicycles for a night out into the village and round about, and there were plenty of them. That Derby Day, no, the Grand National came first; Grand National Day, Fred Darling himself used to come into the pub in Wing village and said, “’That Lovely Cottage’, that will win the Grand National,” and it did. We all had a good bet on it, a whole crowd of sergeants and flight sergeants, we all backed it.

Later on, he was training ‘Owen Tudor’, or ‘Edwin Tudor’, I’m not sure which, for the Derby. That night, we were talking to him, “Are yer goina win then?” We could see he was training the favourite. “No,” he said, have a good bet on ‘Airborne,” so we did, and we had money for months and months and months. We all backed it at 66 to one. A wonderful wonderful gift for us from Fred Darling. I used to love to roam around the village, it was lovely. We used to go down to Lyon’s Corner House in London, have a little trip down there and we quite enjoyed it.

Then came the time to move on. It was about when V.E. Day had finished, we suddenly one day saw on the notice board, a list of crews that had volunteered to go to South East Asia command. All the instructor’s names were on and none of us had volunteered. We were granted embarkation leave, so we had a little meeting in the sergeants’ mess and we decided that we would all take the embarkation leave, then we would all write to the Air Ministry and say that we shouldn’t be going on operations abroad because we’d already done our tour of operations, or two tours in some cases. It turned out that this worked, because although I went back to Wing, and one or two more did, gradually, we were all posted away from the station. In the meantime, whilst I was there, there was a Warrant Officer Edmunds who’d been badly burnt in a crash earlier on, and he was a great mate of ours. He said one day, “Would you like a trip around the bombed cities of Europe?” I said, “Yeah, I would.” About eight of us went with him, in a Wellington, all stood up, but he took us all around to show us the bomb damage and it was absolutely terrible. I don’t know how they could rebuild it so quick, but anyway, it was a sight to see. And then, when the prisoners started coming back from Germany, they were all coming back with their little souvenirs. The WAF’s were taking the souvenirs of ‘em and marking ‘em, whose they were, sending them into a tent to be deloused. They had to leave their clothes when they went in. Then there were new uniforms for ‘em at the other end when they got out and they got their own souvenirs back, and this was wonderful. They were starving, but they were all starving in Germany. There were food kitchens for them, but they were only allowed soup for two or three days until their stomachs got used to taking food. Now that was alright, I met two of my friends from Sheffield at that time, but when the prisoners started coming back from Italy, these all appeared to have been beaten up. They’d got broken arms, black eyes and allsorts and no souvenirs. They’d been taken off ‘em by the Italians and I swore that it I ever got the chance, I’d get me own back for them. This happened later, before I left the RAF. VJ Day was announced and I was in transit somewhere, but I’d been back to Blackpool in the meantime, as a warrant officer. I got my own back on Flight Sergeant Frazer because, I had to report to Blackpool for a couple of days, until they got a permanent warrant officer and then I was to move on. I was moving on to Bruntingthorpe, near Leicester.

The first morning at Blackpool, Flight Sergeant Frazer came walking in and he came over, “Hello.” I said, “Just stand to attention when you talk to me.” He stood to attention, and I said, “Take that white flash out of your cap.” He said, “Well, I always wear this.” I said, “That’s for air crew under training and you’re not an air crew under training,” so he had to take it out. One thing while we were at Blackpool training, there was a boxing match between various sectors and we all cheered when another flight sergeant from another flight, gave our flight sergeant a real good pasting, and we all cheered and cheered and cheered. But, he really was a bully, our flight sergeant, whereas our squad corporal was a gentleman and we treated him well when we left.

I said to Flight Sergeant Frazer, “Now, I’ve got a message for you to take down to Squire’s Gate.” He said, “Shall I get transport?” I said, “No, get on your bicycle and go down on your bicycle.” While he was going to Squire’s Gate, I got my new orders; a new warrant officer had arrived and took over from me, and I moved on towards Bruntingthorpe, so I was only there for a couple of days, but I got my own back in that couple of days.

When I got to Bruntingthorpe, everyone was being demoted a rank, all the air crew, so that meant I was going to go down to being a flight sergeant, but a corporal met me as I arrived at Leicester station. He took me up and said, “The station commander want to see yer.” I went in and saluted him, and he said, “Well Mr. Morley, you’re lucky aren’t yer?” I said, “Why?” He said, “Because you’re going to keep your rank because I haven’t got another warrant officer on this station, so you’re it, the station warrant officer while you’re here.” I said, “What do I have to do?” He said, “Nothing in particular, we don’t have a deal to do, but we have a lot of prisoners of war who work on farms, more Italians than Germans. I want you to sort that out. The farmers are complaining about them not working hard enough.” “Oh,” I said, “Right.” It seemed that for every six or seven Italians, there was one German, so I formed them into little squads and I put the German in charge of the Italians on each squad. When they went out to the farms in the morning, I said to the Germans, “Don’t forget, make them work.” Most of the Germans, in fact nearly all of them spoke very good English. They did make them work while they were there. They used to grumble, but I made sure the Germans got better treatment than the Italians with regard to getting food etc.

Eventually, I had to start going down into Leicester to pick up pay for the staff at Bruntingthorpe. This was quite good because I used to go there into the recruit office where I’d fetch the pay from; it was already made up, and I used to try and talk ‘em into getting more recruits so that I could get out. But eventually, I did get out and I visited various places on the way, but I was sent to Uxbridge for demob. I was just going into Uxbridge when my little flight engineer was coming out. He’d been demobbed. He hadn’t time to talk; he was going home to Edinburgh. We just said, “So long, we’ll keep in touch,” we exchanged addresses, and that’s the last I saw of the job. I was sent down to Wembley to collect cigarette rations and to get the demob suit fixed up and then back to Uxbridge and off home to Sheffield. I was out. That demob was in September of 1946, but I’d got some leave and some money, and it was effective for a month later in October. So, I was actually finished with the Air Force on 28th of September 1946


I think this is about the end of my story now. I’ve told you all the little bits and bobs. I started this after the unveiling of the memorial stone which had been bought from subscriptions. We all went back to Ludford to be there at the unveiling of the memorial stone and to see our old commander do the unveiling. It was appropriate that as he was the commanding officer of 14 base, he should do the unveiling. The squadron lost more men in the period from October to the end of the war, than any other squadron in Bomber Command, due to the fact that 101 flew on every major bombing mission from October 1943 to the end of the war, using ‘Airborne Cigar’ to disrupt the enemy fighting controllers.

I think that’s all I have to say now, thank you for reading. I hope this is put on record: first of all that Dennis Goodliffe was the man who started the association, because after that unveiling, he was asked to form an association and he did so, and Les Burton became his assistant, as secretary, while Dennis continued as treasurer. Dennis finally handed over the treasurer’s job. We got a member to be our first chairman and from then on, the association has gone from strength to strength.

When the Falklands War intervened and the squadron was disbanded, I’d already taken over from Les Burton because he was very ill when he started doing the job and I used to help him with the books. After I’d been and fetched the books from his home, he suddenly died. He was a very young man. I carried on with the job until the next meeting of the association, and in conjunction with – they wouldn’t let us have Waddington any more, we’d had it in the crew room. My first one was in the crew room at Waddington, but then we moved to Swinderby where they used to let us have the ‘newcomers club’ for our weekend celebrations. During this period, the squadron had disbanded and I was told there would be a liaison officer from 150 squadron, but in the event, I never saw this man. My main contact was a sergeant, the warrant officer in charge of the officers’ mess at Swinderby.

He did a good job, as did the one at Waddington. Eventually, the squadron reformed at Priors Norton, and then in 1984, I got my own liaison officer, Andy Gray, a wonderful man. If I haven’t mentioned him in this tape, I will do another tape and mention how he came about.


PR-BR