Interview with David Berrie

Title

Interview with David Berrie

Description

David Berrie joined the RAF and served as a wireless operator. He flew six operations with 576 Squadron from RAF Elsham Wolds. Shares his experience about living on the station with Polish crews. Remembers crashing twice in twenty-four hours and on this occasion damaging his knee. He was shot down over Germany in 1944 and managed to survive for a week before being captured and placed in a prisoner of war camp, where he was interrogated. He was then transferred to other camps before being liberated by the Russians. Mentions an episode of LMF in his crew.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2016-10-31

Contributor

Peter Schulze

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

01:14:17 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

ABerrieD161031

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

BB: Ok, here we are. Right, so, if you would just like to speak into that, from the very first day you thought you were gonna join the Royal Air Force right away, just, no just, just, it’ll, you can just leave it like that
DB: Oh yes. You’ve ever seen, that’s a piece of the aircraft, my own aircraft shot down
BB: A bit of Lancaster, oh
DB: Just the last four or five years
BB: [unclear] a bit of paint on it. I’ll have a look at that later. So, if you’d just like to speak into the microphone [unclear] and I’ll make the notes the things to ask you later, thank you
DB: Just want sort of detailed from when I went to Bomber Command
BB: Yeah. No, when you joined up, how you joined up, did you go, were you enlisted or did you volunteered, from the day you said I’m gonna join the RAF, that will be fine, thank you.
DB: I just, [unclear] understand, I’m very deaf, even with the
BB: If you want to put it on your lap there
DB: [unclear] even with the hearing aid [unclear]
BB: Well, I’ll talk to you when
DB: I’ll give my rank and then
BB: Yes
DB: David Berrie
BB: Don’t worry
DB: David Berrie, [file missing], Stirling [file missing]. I joined the Air Force in February 1941 and I joined up, enlisted then I went to Blackpool for training as a wireless operator. From there went on to Compton Bassett in Wiltshire for [unclear] training
BB: So, Blackpool was the
DB: Initial Training Unit
BB: ITU and you were there, you were taught all the basic stuff, you were given your uniform, given all your injections, and marching, parading, and all that, and how long did that last for?
DB: Well, I think the
BB: A month, something like that?
DB: I think there were six weeks [unclear]
BB: Six weeks, ok. And then you obviously managed to pass that and [unclear] all your problems, then they sent you off to Compton Bassett
DB: For about three months
BB: Three months, now, was that at them, was that an OTU?
DB: No
BB: No, that was your training for
DB: And then, from there I went to Aberdeen, [unclear] Aberdeen, which was an operational station
BB: Right.
DB: At Coastal Command.
BB: Right.
DB: Served as a wireless operator there, quite often on the main frequencies [unclear] squadron
BB: How long did you spend in [unclear]?
DB: Went from September I think till about March, that was six months.
BB: That was what, 194
DB: ‘41
BB: ’41, ok.
DB: And as I went from there, I was posted to Ireland, Northern Ireland, again as a radio operator, wireless operator
BB: Was that Ballykelly?
DB: No, wasn’t [unclear],
BB: Alright, alright.
DB: It was more or less like
BB: A signal’s
DB: Yeah, a signal
BB: Ok
DB: For picking up
BB: Yeah, I understand, so you were there [unclear]
DB: I was there possibly three months, can’t really remember cause I moved [unclear] a bit, was country areas
BB: Right
DB: We lived in old farmhouses, some had a Nissan hut with a sentry come near observatory, you know, observer corps type of thing, and that was there and then called up for aircrew, I got sent to the Isle of Man, Jurby on the Isle of Man.
BB: Right, you were called up rather than volunteer.
DB: Well, I volunteered.
BB: Volunteered, then you were called up, ok. And you went to RAF Jurby. Right. How long were you at Jurby for?
DB: I did the air gunnery course, got my brevy there at Jurby.
BB: Right.
DB: And then, from there I was posted to Pwllheli Penrhos in North Wales, which was only a very short period because we, there were no runways
BB: No
DB: And so we moved over to the aerodrome at Llandudno, [unclear] end of the [unclear] straights and spent a long time in training command, quite some time, which involved flying two day tours, one day and one the next alternatively a week about and then
BB: In Ansons?
DB: Pardon?
BB: Ansons? Avro Ansons?
DB: Pardon?
BB: What were you flying, what aircraft were you flying?
DB: Ansons.
BB: Ansons. Flying classroom.
DB: And quite reliable, they were very reliable.
BB: Yes,I mean, they were the main stay of Coastal Command for a long time
DB: We were flying two-day tours, one day and then one the next, one was seven till ten and then other one took off at ten and was, and they did a three, that’s all but just as [unclear] stay in the air
BB: Wireless operators and air gunners and navigators
DB: And then we were instructing wireless, we were instructing trainee wireless operators and the pilot was instructing a navigator,
BB: Ok.
DB: So we were both known as start pilots and start wireless operators.
BB: Ok, thank you, And then you must at some phase
DB: Yeah.
BB: Yeah.
DB: All of a sudden we got, it was a peculiar thing because they did a trawl looking for wireless operators, they were willing to train up as navigators quickly, flying Mosquitos
BB: Right, ok.
DB: And then all of a sudden, I was cancelled and I got sent to [unclear] became, it was [unclear] and then it changed it I think because it was too close to High [unclear]
BB: Right
DB: And then there was a sort of episode where somebody committed suicide
BB: Oh dear
DB: And it happened to be named [unclear] so it was a Canadian crew or something and everything went well cause the pilot decided to raise a question [unclear] and of course the Canadian government held onto but when they notified the relatives in Canada, they were very, very annoyed that these people volunteered, come all the way here and got killed and somebody committed suicide and they blamed us we should have picked that up. While the officers [unclear], so then we did OTU and normally we
BB: So, this suicide, this guy was flying an aircraft with people in it when he decided just to crash it or something
DB: Pardon?
BB: This suicide
DB: Well
BB: There was more people killed
DB: There was
BB: [unclear] aircraft
DB: He crashed the whole aircraft
BB: Alright, that’s what I was saying
DB: Near Shrewsbury
BB: Oh, ok. So, it was [unclear] an Anson.
DB: I think he tried to put it into the [unclear]
BB: Oh
DB: Which was a well-known landmark
BB: Ok. Dear, dear. Anyway, after that, what happened?
DB: Well, we were then to OTU, we went to conversion unit, heavy conversion unit at Sandtoft and of course Sandtoft near Scunthorpe, [unclear] Doncaster.
BB: Yeah.
DB: [unclear] we clashed twice in twenty-four hours
BB: So, you went from the Anson to the OTU
DB: Yes
BB: Where it was Wellingtons, the flying [unclear]?
DB: Yes
BB: [unclear]
DB: The OTU was peplow
BB: Yeah, but what was the aircraft?
DB: Wellingtons
BB: Wellingtons and then you graduated from Wellingtons, went to the heavy conversion unit, where you went on to Stirlings, and Halifaxes and Lancasters
DB: [unclear]. The other thing I [unclear] going to the conversion unit because of the accommodation difficulties, we [unclear] four or five aerodromes in a few weeks
BB:
DB: Lindum, Hemswell, [unclear], there was a [unclear] officer, there was quite a lot of [unclear] actually sat on the Sandtorft [unclear] Christmas 34, 43 [unclear]
BB: Right.
DB: And then well, as I say, that was conversion on the Halifaxes
BB: Halifaxes
DB: Up to the heavy conversion unit, and then we went to Hemswell, back to Hemswell for conversion to Lancasters
BB: They called the Lancaster finishing school. Right, so, when the time you got to the Lancasters, it would have been sort of Mid ’43 or something like that?
DB: [unclear] when we were finished, I think we went to the squadron, about 576 Squadron about May sometime in ‘44
BB: That was 576
DB: No, 576 was at Elsham Wolds, of course, and then we got transferred to the Polish squadron
BB: Three hundred, so how long, how many, so when did you start flying your ops then? Your operational?
DB: Just, I think at the end of May, in May sometime
BB: Yeah, yeah.
DB: Cause the first one was to Dortmund [laughs]
BB: Yes, ok, and how many ops did you do with 576? Roughly, roughly?
DB: I would say about six or seven
BB: Ok. And then got transferred to the Polish squadron. And were they flying, what were the Poles flying?
DB: They’d been flying Wellingtons up to then when they went onto Lancasters they wanted to bomb Berlin, this was a [unclear] but when they went on Lancasters all of a sudden their losses went from a hundred [unclear] to quite [unclear] and the morale had dropped
BB: Dropped, yeah.
DB: After they told us privately but
BB: So you had to go and try to get it sorted out [unclear]
DB: So they both, we were the first two crews that went there and then they built it up the full flight
BB: Right. And built it up
DB: But when I was up to Sandtoft, well, I understand later that it was known as Planktoft
BB: Planktoft
DB: Because it had so many crashes, but we crashed twice in twenty-four hours, once in take-off and once in landing.
BB: Gosh!
DB: In twenty-four hours and that’s when I broke my knee
BB: was damaged
DB: Because [unclear]
BB: I’ve talked to other veterans, both within Fighter Command and Bomber Command, who worked with the Poles, mainly in Fighter Command, cause when I was in the RAF reserve, I was in RAF Northolt, which was a big Polish base and they found them unruly on the ground, sometimes lacking discipline but in the air very focused, get the job done, kill Germans, [unclear], that was it.
DB: Well we
BB: How did you find them?
DB: We do trouble with them now but biggest was the language difficulty cause they had a problem the first time we went to the cinema because when they coming out, we used God save the King, but what we didn’t realise was that immediately followed was the Polish national anthem and of course we, on our way walking out, of course that was a major crime to the Pole
BB: Of course
DB: And of course we got lined up the next day and we just said, well, we didn’t know what that was so they had to be taught the Polish national anthem apart from orders were all in Polish
BB: Yes, yes
DB: So, we had to learn all
BB: Sure [unclear] Polish
DB: [unclear] and all that sort of thing
BB: Of course, they’d have their own Polish NCOs and everything, yeah.
DB: But I mean, the groundcrews [unclear] were terrific and some things were more, I would say more thorough than even our own squadron because some of the staff, they were still doing, was a lot about [unclear] wireless operators swinging the loop, while you never did that on a British squadron [unclear] I think, when things were a bit more antiquated, I would say
BB: Right. Ok, so you find yourself going all through that, now, tell me something about the crewing up process at
DB: Well, we crewed up at Peplow OTU, that was a normal place
BB: Yes
DB: And all that was [unclear] a big hangar, I mean, I see this, had a big room, whatever it was, and you were just taught to crew up yourself this big [unclear] and well we started off, my bomb aimer and I, who were close along, we sort of lined up together, and then we saw the pilot and somebody recommended up to us so that was that and then we just build up from that
BB: Yes
DB: The first the mid upper gunner was [unclear] he could recommend and he told us about his [unclear], he came out top on our course so that was a good thing and the navigator, he was the last and the engineer wasn’t too bad because he heard my scorched voice so he was quite happy to join the crew there
BB: Yeah, could you, correct me if I am wrong, but the mid upper gunner and the flight engineer, you said joined the crew at the heavy conversion unit
DB: No, they joined then there at the OTU
BB: Did they?
DB: The whole lot
BB: Because in the earlier part of the war, they, when the flight engineer [unclear] came in because of the heavies, they used to meet them at the heavy conversion unit
DB: Well
BB: [unclear] obviously streamline by then
DB: Of course, the engineer was flying alongside the pilot
BB: Yeah
DB: Wellingtons so the other thing, there was two gunners and only one turret
BB: Right
DB: So they had to do
BB: Yeah [unclear]
DB: Well, circuits and bumps, things like that
BB: Yes, yes
DB: But
BB: And so, your time at the heavy conversion unit was how long, roughly?
DB: Roughly, was six weeks
BB: Six weeks, ok.
DB: More or less, was circuits and bumps
BB: Yeah. Did you do, did you do any sorties?
DB: [unclear]
BB: Sometimes they’d take you on a soft target over France [unclear]
DB: Finishing, finished the OUT you did a sortie [unclear], ours was to Paris and dropping leaflets
BB: Yeah.
DB: Still, that was from Wellingtons still at OTU.
BB: But it gave you the experience and all of that, [unclear] as a crew under operational conditions. Ok, so converted to the Lancaster at the HCU and with your new crew, part of your new crew and then off to 576 Squadron
DB: We went from OTU to heavy conversion unit and then ended up at 576 Squadron at Elsham Wolds
BB: 576, yeah. And how did you find that?
DB: Oh, well, I liked 576 Squadron, we were very sorry to leave it but they’d just been selecting crews sort of semi-experienced I would say that they wanted experienced crews but then went up too many operations then
BB: I understand
DB: Which makes sense, there was nobody very happy about but we were, there was two crews here, we were the first, who weren’t too bad, but Polish food didn’t agree with us to start with
BB: No
DB: [unclear] Got sorted out and it was, I think everything we got [unclear] every day, I think, a toast and cheese and the Polish soup was fat and [unclear], you know that?
BB: Yes, yes, yes
DB: [unclear] fat, so that didn’t suit us at all but fortunate enough to send black cookery [unclear] and she was asking [unclear] so when I got cheese very quickly [unclear] and a soup [unclear] was sick but apart from that, I mean, we got on very well with the groundcrew, had a good groundcrew
BB: Yeah?
DB: [unclear] Another thing, [unclear] revolver practice every week, you never heard that, I mean, you could carry a revolver if you wanted but usually the only one who did it was the pilot usually but [unclear] up to do it yourself, he wasn’t forced
BB: No
DB: But I never carried one because I wouldn’t have shot a civilian anyway so what was a point? But no I thought it was quite, 576 was a happy atmosphere and then you knew, there were two squadrons which made [unclear] quite busy of course and then we were nicely set [unclear] between Scunthorpe and Grimsby cause there [unclear] went there so that was
BB: Weekend
DB: I mean, the station was a bit away from the airfield but [unclear]
BB: Did you have a normal aircrew bike?
DB: Pardon?
BB: Did you have the bikes to go from the domestic site to the airfield?
US: Bikes, bicycles.
DB: Oh no, no. [laughs] One bicycle was the Polish one, Polish squadron and that was quite handy.
BB: Yes, cause some of these domestic sites were quite away from the
DB: Yes
BB: From the airfield
DB: One was quite good, Elsham Wolds was very far from the airfield to the mess so they got sleeping accommodation, cause something too close to the hangar because running up the engines during the night was something difficult to get sleeping
BB: Yes [unclear]
DB: But, apart from that
BB: Yes
DB: But a good, had a very good CO to 576 Squadron, Tubby Clayton, his father [unclear] in the First World War
BB: Alright.
DB: Now
BB: That at 576
DB: Yeah.
BB: Right, ok. And how did you find, did you like the Lancaster? Did you like flying the Lancaster?
DB: No.
BB: Lovely airplane, I’m told.
DB: How did I find the Lancaster?
BB: Yeah, the Lancaster.
DB: Oh, a fantastic aircraft, oh, I mean, we had a sort of demonstration think of [unclear] De Havilland, we didn’t normally fly in them but it was fantastic, I mean, flying on one engine, turning over, stuff like that, the only thing was the one engine, when [unclear] damaged one engine, you had to turn into
BB: Yes
DB: You turned, you couldn’t turn the other three engines
BB: No, no.
DB: But it was a terrific aircraft, much better than the Halifax, the Halifax was, well, [unclear] anyway, in fact it never seemed to be [unclear] for some reason, the engines didn’t [unclear], Hendley’s engines made all the difference but
BB: The good old [unclear] with the Merlins, fine
DB: It was a terrible aircraft the Halifax for swinging and take-off and landing
BB: Yes, I heard that from other veterans, yes
DB:
BB: Yes, must have been quite frightening and coming back to OTU, some of the veterans I’ve talked to said there was an awful lot of crashes at the Heavy Conversion Unit, they were on and they lost a few crews, did you, was that a true statement, as far as you’re concerned?
DB: I think so, Sandtoft I think had a bad, a very bad reputation to us, we had, well I said, landing and take-off but it wasn’t from a great height and that was engines [unclear] sometimes from the [unclear] down I think but the engines were clapped out, the aircraft were clapped out
BB: So at the HCU they
DB: I mean the aircrews, the groundcrews must have been breaking their heart trying to keep them going, but as I said, while we drove off to aircraft, our pilot [laughs] and he ended up flying civilian aircraft for Aer Lingus when from the very time they started cause he, after the prisoner of war, he stayed in and funny enough he was made an instructor which didn’t
BB: Ok, so, how many ops did you do before you were shot down?
DB: I
BB: Roughly
DB: I am a bit confused there because I reckon, we’d done about twenty-one, but I don’t think officially we had done because I hadn’t my logbook
BB: No, no, no, but you were an experienced crew, you got over the five trip [unclear] and then gone onto others, now, what shot you down, was it flak or was it night fighter?
DB: Night fighter, a BFF, a UbF110.
BB: Ok. Right, and where was that? Roughly? Over France or?
DB: We hadn’t got to Stuttgart
BB: Ah, you were on the way to the target?
DB: It was a bit I think a bad thing because in the first place was to fly a raid on D-Day, Caen
BB: Oh, of course yeah, right
DB: At low level all the way round until we came sort of more or less at Brest [unclear] I would say I don’t know possibly fifty, a hundred miles and then they decided to turn and up towards Mannheim, go north towards Mannheim and climb from four thousand feet to twenty thousand feet reaching the time limit which [unclear] some of our pilots raised the question how do you get a fully laden Lancaster from four thousand feet to twenty thousand feet? And they just said, oh, I wouldn’t consider that, climb as high as you can get but whilst when we got up near Mannheim and turned to go south, this was our diversion supposed to mean and elst we turning south approaching Stuttgart we got shot
BB: Was it a beam attack or an under attack?
DB: It was an under attack.
BB: It would be the Schrage Musik, with the upper pointing
DB: [unclear] music
BB: Schrage Musik, yes, piano music
DB: But they came underneath, obviously
BB: Were you still carrying your bomb load at that stage?
DB: Pardon?
BB: Were still carrying a bomb load?
DB: Oh yes, the bomb load
BB: So, went up like a lighthouse
DB: Well, actually, funny enough, well at that time, [unclear] night fighter equipment [unclear]
BB: Oh, ok, [unclear] Rebecca and stuff
DB: But the top of all was, because it was so low down
BB: Didn’t work, then
DB: [unclear]
BB: It was [unclear] the system
DB: And, well actually, knew it was [unclear] cause I reported to the [unclear]they had thought they’d seen it at one time but then as you said, dived underneath and came along
BB: Yeah
DB: And I think it was one thirty in the morning, I can remember that cause I recorded it in my log just automatically and then
BB: What date was that? Do you remember the date?
DB: Twenty-fourth, twenty-fifth, morning, one twenty in the morning the twenty fifth
BB: Of?
DB: Of July
BB: July, God!
DB: And then they came round again, I don’t know whether they hit us the same time or not cause one wing, both engines and the flames were flown back on the starboard side
BB: Who was killed in that attack?
DB: Nobody
BB: Nobody?
DB: We never lost anybody.
BB: Excellent.
DB: But, because you end up as one of the very few, that there was no casualties.
BB: Wasn’t?
DB: Because they hit the tanks and the engines,
BB: Right.
DB: I think they came again, I’m not a hundred percent certain of that and went for the other side and I think it was there once [unclear] wouldn’t have had much chance
BB: No
DB: Because I recorded one thirty-two
BB: Right.
DB: That could have been explosions
BB: Right. But the Me 101 went off somebody else after that.
DB: So, then because, there was two or three things, the [unclear] hadn’t been, didn’t go up to the full height maybe could be allowed a lower height twenty thousand feet, getting the length of the aircraft, was a complete lack of oxygen,
BB: Yes, of course
DB: So cause that was one thing, and just a [unclear]
BB: I mean, he got, did you all get out?
DB: All got out
BB: And did you try and regroup on the ground or did you all split up?
DB: Well, we were scattered all over the field but because the pilot and I were speaking to each other just at the last minute and he said, he was going out and I said, well, I’ll go back because the engineer and I went to the rear
BB: Across the main [unclear]
DB: And, well, he was sitting there on his [unclear] and locked to go so that gave him a lot
BB: [unclear]
DB: He wasn’t restrained, it was just, the flames were so frightening, you know, flames got and as I said, there was now or nothing, so I had to [unclear] so he went and I was behind him but on the ground I landed and my parachute had caught in trees and I couldn’t get down that was my biggest problem and I was undecided whether to present a pressure leach or not
BB: Break a leg
DB: Cause I didn’t know how far
BB: No
DB: But what I managed to do was get one sided and pull down one side and that slipped down
BB: Right, right [unclear]
DB: So I did drop but not very far and then I pulled it down and I’d cross a bit grass, about six, well, a hundred yards, [unclear] across under a fence, started to run up through the trees, all of a sudden I’ve seen my pilot put thirty yards ahead of me and I shout to them because I could see there was some wrong, but he had lost his boots on the way down, [unclear] is not uncommon for people dropping from a height and [unclear] a group clearing, had a bit buried our parachutes
BB: And all that stuff
DB: And the same [unclear] had to do something about his feet so we cut the top off, mine because his boots [unclear]
BB: That’s right
DB: Cut them off and parachute silk for the cord and made a rough pair of sandals for him and that kept us back
BB: Yes, I see.
DB: And
BB: But nobody was wounded, everybody got together and
DB: No, the rest of them were all scattered
BB: Ok.
DB: [unclear]
BB: All split up but you linked up with your pilot
DB: Yeah
BB: And did you have a plan? Did you have a [unclear]?
DB: We decided the place, he had opened his map and he knew quite where we’d been shot down and as it so happened, he made a mistake but that was beside the point
BB: Do you know where that was incidentally?
DB: Well, it was a bit [unclear] aircraft
BB: Aircraft
DB: Ochsenbach was the name of the place, OSCH
BB: Oschenbach
DB: I’d been there [unclear] and had my lunch and [unclear]
BB: Oh, ok, good for you. So how long till the Luftwaffe arrived to take you away?
DB: Oh, well, we didn’t get captured for nearly a week
BB: Oh, you got [unclear]
DB: We were, we kept on and as I say, I think Schaffhausen was the place in Switzerland we were actually heading for
BB: Right
DB: But I think he thought and he had the map so I didn’t bother getting mine out
BB: Right
DB: And he, obviously he could see, I couldn’t see and the idea was to head for the Schaffhausen in the northern part of Switzerland. But then of course something wrong, we’re head, because they bombed the next night as well and I said, oh, there’s something wrong, we seem to be heading in the wrong direction but we were doing quite well, I think the lack of boots and shoes was a big handicap because we were troubled tying up, making something to protect his feet, was always a handicap, plus the fighter I don’t think he was a great outdoor man
BB: No
DB: No, he hadn’t much physical
BB: Was this an all British crew or did you have New Zealanders or anybody else in your crew?
DB: No, they were all British,
BB: All British
DB: Because by that time the Canadians, they decided they wanted their own group
BB: Right.
DB: So, they made up their group and moved people [unclear]
BB: Yes, that’s right
DB: Cause we had to go and pick up the Lancasters and take them back again
BB: Right, ok
DB: [unclear]
BB: So there you were on the ground, you’ve got your crew, got your crew roughly together split up how long, you’re on the run for a week
DB: I think [unclear] but I think [unclear]
BB: Ok. How did they get you in the end?
DB: Well,
BB: Were you betrayed by the resistance?
DB: We were doing quite well [unclear] the Black Forest but we had to break cover and we couldn’t get water and it was scorching summer and that was, trying to get water but couldn’t open farmhouse trying to get these wells but then the dogs started barking so we had to get away on the road but what actually happened was along this road and we decided to go through a field to get to the field on the other side there was a road there and we had to break cover to go over the road somebody I think must have seen we didn’t see anything but there was a truck came along loaded with troops they’d obviously been in [unclear] with the fires in Stuttgart and somebody must have spotted them because they stopped them and then we had to run through the field and the [unclear] said, we succeeded to go, [unclear] the lorry [unclear], we got into some cover but obviously they were after us and they must have caught other people and then eventually we saw an airfield [unclear] and we decided we could go there, lie low, and see if we could possibly get on the aircraft cause they were training aircraft, they were single seaters on the but there again we had to get across was a, ground was a sort of road, a ravine, I would say and we had to get down the bank and across on the other side but just when we were got out on the road we heard a voice saying
BB: Hande hoch!
DB: [laughs] for you the war is over [unclear].
BB: Yeah, and were you well treated, I mean, were you abused in any way by them or?
DB: Ah, no, well,
BB: Showed around a bit
DB: We got taken in because it was an aerodrome,
BB: Yeah.
DB: We got taken in there and all we wanted was water and no they wouldn’t give it to us but they gave us plenty of stuff like spaghetti with possibly a sort of gravy in it so we had, we didn’t eat, we couldn’t eat the spaghetti, we couldn’t swallow
BB: No, no.
DB: So we asked for some more and the chef was very, the cook was very angry then but they handcuffed us to beds
BB: Right
DB: But as I say I can’t see there was any odd treatment there, [unclear] but then they took us into a place and there was a big hall and we had to lie down on the floor with hands and legs wide apart
BB: [unclear]
DB: And then we found out was being used for people coming in after being held in the [unclear] and shelters they were coming in for tea or coffee and then some of the civilians [unclear] but one or two [unclear] but not but, but all of a sudden some of the Wehrmacht come in and they were getting rifle butts in the kidneys, kicking in between the legs and one or two of them in the head but I can’t say, I mean apart from that and then we got taken into, go taken into a place and interrogated by a Wehrmacht major
BB: Not a Luftwaffe?
DB: Not at that time and that was, you’ve seen the films footage
BB: Yeah
DB: Dancing on the top of the table with temper, the [unclear] of the German officers dancing with the [unclear], well, that’s exactly what he did, I would never have believed it but he was so annoyed because we wouldn’t give him answers he wanted and then a fortunate thing, a German lad, a young lad, they had him imprisoned, they took him out to translate and of course the major didn’t agree with what he was telling them, you see, so that was that, and then the Luftwaffe came to take us away. They were, we had to go to Stuttgart and the station was bombed so they took us to another station just outside Ludwigsburg
BB: Who?
DB: Ludwigsburg. Just about two or three miles out, that was a bit frightening because all the civilians were being evacuated to Ludwigsburg cause Stuttgart station but [unclear] nobody, we didn’t, the Luftwaffe protected us so we weren’t
B. That’s good
DB: And eventually we arrived at Dulag Luft near Frankfurt and had about a week there I think.
BB: That was the interrogation centre
DB: Dulag Luft
BB: Yeah
DB: We had to spent, well, I spent all my time there on [unclear] and [unclear] just across the road, possibly you’ve heard of that before and
BB: Yeah. Right, and then, so, once they were happy, well, once you’d, they’d satisfied themselves with you were what you were and all the rest of it, you went to a camp?
DB: [unclear] interrogated each day
BB: Yeah.
DB: And one of the things, cause they knew everything about our squadron and everything, they could practically tell you your address, how they get the information I don’t know must have good [unclear] but went there and of course was [unclear] tell me about how good the Germans treated the RAF prisoners I said, well, we never were [unclear] medical and he says, what’s wrong? and I said, well, look at my ears, my eardrum had been bust by anti-aircraft shells so by this time I was suppurating because we’d no water so, oh, [unclear] so, went back to the cell, and the next, somebody else came along [unclear] two men with medical orders just put my straight and then [unclear] straight like that and then of course all the pus and every had gone out so when I went, we went from there to camp Stalag Luft VII
BB: And where was that?
DB: Bankau was the village, Kreisberg was the town which was fairly nearer.
BB: Ok.
DB: And that was a new camp, there was no proper hut so just the way you there [unclear], there were just like by ten by eight sheds, so, I think it slept six and well, you just lay down on the floor, there was no other,
BB: NO.
DB: Just [unclear] latrines outside the thing, there was not toilets
BB: And it was Luftwaffe guards or Volks?
DB: Luftwaffe [unclear].
BB: Ho Luftwaffe, ok, and how many were in that camp, is that a new camp?
DB: I don’t know, we didn’t even [unclear]
BB: [unclear]
DB: With just a table at the center of the square [unclear] but then the new camp, the main camp opened, they’d been preparing it so we move in and that was much better. A proper camp
BB: There was a temporary camp. You were there for some weeks or something
DB: Well, we were there from until 18th of January 1944
BB: Right
DB: No, 1945, I should say
BB: ’45, right, ok, did you travel around in trains, when you were?
DB: No, we were marched
BB: Marched
DB: Oh, I got the whole history, the medical officer, we didn’t have an RAF medical officer, was an army one, an REMC, he would [unclear], he was excellent, and him and the camp commandant had kept a running record and reported it to the [unclear]
BB: [unclear]
DB: But we [unclear] the Stalag for a year and that’s where Stalag III escape [unclear], they’d arrived a week or two before us, but we had [unclear] about twice or three times but when we ran a trade the last four or five days I think, that was pretty rough
BB: Yes, I can imagine. And who liberated you?
DB: Russians.
BB: Russians. I bet that must have been
DB: 21st of April.
BB: And what were they like?
DB: The first line troops were excellent, I mean, the only thing they did was to put our tanks and [unclear] where the barb wire was, run around and I don’t think they were doing a good thing taking them down, [unclear] the lights were all electric [unclear]
BB: [unclear]
DB: So, the first thing some [unclear] among the prisoners, the officers in our camp and interrogate some [unclear] but very well, they got all our own documents, the Germans had carried their own documents so we got, arranged them all, got our own documents back, we got our own valuables back, so the Germans must have carried them all the way from
BB: [unclear] One they’re very, write everything down, two, they were very thorough
DB: Oh yes.
BB: And, you know, so, alles in Ordnung, alles klar, you see
DB: I know we got these back, and
BB: Well, that was good, and well treated by the Russians, no problems?
DB: Pardon?
BB: Well treated by the Russians?
DB: Well, as I say, [unclear] the political troops and the atmosphere changed completely
BB: Yeah
DB: From night and day. A lot of our chaps were leaving the camp and trying to get on the road, now although they’d been instructed by the CO and by the radio not to do it, a lot of them were beginning to be a bit frightened of the Russians, especially the likes of Poles and things, they didn’t like them but provided that you just didn’t go and say [unclear] because you could go and they’d seen you with a ring or a watch, they would just take it from you [unclear]
BB: [unclear]
DB: It didn’t happen to me, I mean, but some of them did happen to but [unclear] they kept us low, low as we should have been
BB: Yeah, you were a bargaining chip
DB: Because, as I say, they were just, the kept, well, I got home the 28th of May on the [unclear] the 21st of April and while it took about two or three days to come because the Russians took us out five o’clock in the morning, took us to the river Oder, Wittenberg was the place they handed us over the Americans and we stayed one night in [unclear], went to Brussels, the next day [unclear].
BB: Right, ok.
DB: And we spent overnight in Brussels and then flown back to Dunsfold landed
BB: Dunsfold
DB: South of London
BB: Because several of the guys I’ve talked to before went to RAF Westcott, that was another, Silverstone and Westcott, were the other two airfields where they took the POWs.
DB: That was quite surprising because we landed at Dumsfield must have been after lunchtime and obviously they hadn’t expected such a big crowd of RAF prisoners at that stage of the war, so, nothing was organized but they were very well organized, had civilian women and everything and helping, [unclear] the only thing was we objected, no, we didn’t object and laid down in the grass and they came nurse DDT up your legs [unclear]
BB: You got new kit there and all the rest, yeah.
DB: Oh, we had a new kit, I got a new kit in Brussels.
BB: In Brussels, oh, ok.
DB: But then they organized a train, must have bene just after teatime, and went off for Cosford, near Wolverhampton
BB: Yeah
DB: And we arrived there at about one o’clock in the morning
BB: Now, were you, as ex POWs, were you interviewed by Mi9 people, you know, the people who were interested at what happened in the prisoner of war camp, so, did you get any of that?
US: He interviewed with other people.
DB: Oh yes, I was.
BB: Oh, about your time in the.
DB: Were interrogated when we landed at Cosford.
BB: Right. Ok, at that time
DB: They told you to go and have a shower and drop [unclear] your clothes and when you came back, all your clothes were away, cause they’d taken them away and had a beautiful army uniform I got in Brussels [laughs], a Canadian army officer’s [laughs]
BB: Right, just [unclear]
DB: No [unclear] but they got us up at five o’clock in the morning, wanted to [unclear] and they started, I don’t know where they got the people but everything, medicals, clothing, [unclear] ranks and we were alone away during the day as ready, and some of them could get home, they got away fairly quickly, [unclear] we couldn’t get a train till the evening so we were kept back and some of the [unclear] Londoners [unclear] North London, people who had to go to London, down to Cornwall they kept them later as well because obviously they couldn’t get home that night.
BB: No, no. That’s right, so, it was, it all went fairly smoothly for a wartime situation with that massive, hundreds, thousands of prisoners to contend with so it worked visibly ok and so
DB: [unclear], what were you saying, I’m sorry?
BB: I am saying that the whole, it may have seemed chaotic but it worked ok, you came in one end and you went out the other
DB: Even the letters there other people that did the same thing, everybody said it was excellent and I mean [unclear]
BB: No, did you get all your back pay?
DB: Yes, no, not the [unclear]
BB: No. not [unclear], no, no.
DB: They got some enough to carry back home again,
BB: [unclear]
DB: Some [unclear]
BB: And so, you came home, and where was home then?
DB: Down at the other end of the village
BB: Alright
DB: [unclear] called, well, it was used, it was known as the Westend at one time, was part of main street really
BB: Ok.
DB: But the older people was referred to its original name. But the village was much smaller.
BB: Of course. It would have been, yes, yes and then you obviously, what did you do before you joined [unclear], was it your?
DB: I worked in the quarry which was a work similar to a mason
BB: Ok.
DB: A stone mason.
BB: Yeah. And that’s where you went before you [unclear]
DB: I got taken out there and put in [unclear]
BB: Yeah, ok.
DB: Shifting furniture, but then I was underage at that time.
BB: Right, ok and then, you went back to that job when you came back or did you do something new?
DB: Yes. But, first, four or five winters to kill, every November till about February, March usually flu [unclear]
BB: Well, that’s right, your resistance [unclear]
DB: Flu, pneumonia, well, flu, bronchitis, pneumonia, pleurisy,
BB: Whatever you had it [laughs]
DB: Well,
BB: But you obviously, that was a result of your
DB: Well, I think
BB: camp, POW camp
DB: I think I was, possibly delayed
BB: Well, you have more likely delayed shock and reaction, all that stuff, you know, bailing out of an aircraft and landing in a foreign place where people are trying to kill you, it’s pretty stressful and I know you were young, but you know, you got through it but there is a price at the end of the day [unclear]. Yeah. I interviewed one guy who was a quiet, nice man and we were interviewing him, I’m interviewing him, and he’d also be a prisoner of war and he went from being very calm, nice sort of guy and I said, how was the camp? He just, so he, I think he had a bad experience one way or the other with, you know, interrogations and one thing and another, but in the main the Luftwaffe very fairly, fairly fair, you know they were doing their job but there was no animosity, they seemed to like, you know, the RAF and I’ve heard this from German prisoners saying how the RAF treated them well.
DB: Well, funny enough, I [unclear] a letter from my bomb aimer who, he was the last one, well, he was the only one who really had close contact after but he had gone in [unclear] and gone to Germany, so he married this German girl but one of the letters he’d written that he’d seen [unclear], some of them were [unclear], badly treated and tortured and all, and he said, well, he said, I don’t know about you but he says, I’ve never seen or felt any of that sort of thing
BB: No.
DB: Intimidation
BB: Sure
DB: And then quite honestly on the march we had to leave, woken up [unclear] there was snow was possibly minus twenty-five, mostly around minus twenty but one of these places [unclear] and the padre was a tall man, six foot nine, the tallest man ever [unclear], and [unclear] was in him and he was standing near [unclear] and he says, don’t mind him, he’s frozen stiff. A German said to him, had been standing there and just got frozen died, standing up, he still had his gun. And then we were crossing the river, Elbe or Oder, a German, the Russians had bombed the bridge, and that was damaged but to get across that, you know how the, [unclear] coming over and then there’s a walkway [unclear], well, we had to go across there for a bit and it was German Luftwaffe chaps, they were standing ever so often with a rope to stop you falling into the water but then they were standing, at least we were getting across and I understand some of the later ones was the Germans that fell in the water, was so cold and frozen but they still did their job, so I mean
BB: So, yeah, well, that’s, so, that was your war then. And you were lucky
DB: Well, I was
BB: Very lucky, you could, first of all you had the training which was, I mean, I’ve been reading some of the statistics on the casualties during training
DB: Oh yes, they were
BB: Yes, and so, that was the first hurdle to survive that, then the operational tour, then jumping out an airplane then evading, then the camp, then all the problems at the end of the war, how unstable everything was and who was going to release you and who was going to come and whatever
US: And now he’s still living
BB: Yes
US: And now he’s still living.
BB: Yes, so it’s wonderful. So, well done.
DB: Oh, I mean,
BB: I congratulate you on your life
DB: Well, of course a lot of the, I mean, a lot of the stories, I mean, I’ve been [unclear] said, I mean, nobody could say the word sort of [unclear]
BB: No, no, no; I’m not making that assumption, I’m saying that the Luftwaffe compared to other guards probably better than most [unclear]
DB: I mean, no, I thought, when you look back now at some of the time, it was intimidating and frightening
BB: Oh sure, would it would be
DB: Apart from that place in [unclear], nobody sort of kicked me
BB: No
DB: [unclear] of course, some says, how did you feel the suffering there? But then [unclear] passed out, you didn’t feel the next one sort of thing but my back still shows [unclear] and my back had been badly damaged, I mean, well, subject to a lot of, but then again they [unclear] hospital, they usually asked me if I’d been in a car crash because it was still showing
BB: Yeah, sure, sure
DB: And, well
BB: I mean, after the war, when you came back, as a matter of interest, you obviously had a medical, did they send you off to RAF hospitals and things to?
DB: No, just, they sent, I got sent for a medical after but four to six weeks home
BB: Right, ok.
DB: And funnily enough, I passed the medical, but then, I’d always been in the athletics
BB: Yeah
DB: And I kept myself
BB: Fit
DB: Fit.
BB: Yes, yes.
DB: [unclear] as prisoners as much as I could, I kept as far my knee would allow me because I used to settle down and [unclear] until they operated, it was only in 1995 before I eventually got an operation
BB: I see.
DB: But even in [unclear] I don’t know, you see, I’ve written a diary there which is quoted in one of the books, the books there
BB: Oh, I need to have a look at that
DB: And it’s mentioned that quite often and that was one of the reasons I didn’t make any effort to leave the camp
BB: No
DB: I’ve been having trouble [unclear] and then eventually the Russian, well they blew out one night and taken to hospital during the night because they don’t know what happened and their own [unclear] was going to take the knee off, pin it and put a plate in and that was a Friday, all of a sudden he said, look, he says, the Russian medical officer has a lot more practice than me, is better than me, agree to let him operate, so I said, fine, they whisked me at one o’clock on a Sunday morning, when they came at five o’clock in the morning and I got taken away, we all got taken away but they wouldn’t move me on a stretcher, [unclear] strapped up and then just hobble along but I mean, you think back at it, you wonder how you survived
BB: I think you just take each day at a time and you build up the resilience to cope with that, I don’t think you look, you know, I mean, I’ve talked to a number of [unclear] guys on ops, then they were sorted by next week, [unclear] next week they may not be here, that was their mindset and I think some of them in their post-war life, because of what they’ve been through in Bomber Command, it’s only my personal opinion, they didn’t really bother about, nothing could worry them anymore
DB: No.
BB: You know, I, I know several veterans who have said, look, before I was, joined the RAF, I used to worry about this, worry about that, I went, did my tour, you know, we’ve seen what the casualty rate was in Bomber Command, we said, right, ok, you know, I’m alive, I met this lovely woman, I’ve got married, I’m gonna go back to my old job, and nothing seemed to worry them.
US: [unclear] and he was shot down in July.
BB: God!
US: [laughs]
BB: So you [unclear]
DB: [unclear]
US: [unclear]
BB: So, you got the missing telegram.
US: Oh yes, yes.
BB: And then, then you would get the red cross thing, he’s in the camp and
US: Actually, actually no, it was my father, was my father although he didn’t, it was a lady down at Dumfries my father always listened to Lord Haw-Haw
BB: Did he?
US: Every night he listened and this night something happened in the the town, cause a bomb dropped in the town and he was in the fire brigade so he didn’t listen, but next morning we got a letter from the women and down south to say that she overheard a Lord Haw-Haw that David and his number was in it and to get home and to safe flight and safe and well.
BB: That was good.
US: Very good.
DB: The photographs [unclear] I don’t know if you’ve seen them but they started, my granddaughter was at school and there was a sort of program or thing [unclear] on [unclear] and she said, oh, my grandad was a prisoner of war, [unclear] and he’s got original German documents of it, so of course she went and it was put on the internet, wherever it was, this is quite a few years ago now, and then, oh, start again, people contacted me [unclear] and someone saw the, got to America, this professor Leo Goldstein but he, because he saw it, it was his father had been in the war, his father wasn’t in the American Air Force, he was in the army, but he had been captured I think at the Battle of the Bulge, and he ended up in Stalag Luft III but when he’d seen this thing on the internet, he contacted Claire, Claire contacted me and [unclear] and was like this, I don’t know whether [unclear] must have gone [unclear] but I gave up very, oh, was beautiful [unclear], Professor Leo Goldstein, he went, I think from Orleans up to San Francisco [unclear] but it was quite fantastic, what he was pointing out was I mean, the different camps always [unclear] but he ended up in Stalag III the final camp we were on but he was detailing all the camps we went and he says, nothing the [unclear] better than land coming in a camp that was run by the RAF because they still kept it very strict [unclear], you know, was then bombed, was American camp just a shambles, nobody seemed to organize anything, well, I must admit, for some reason they kept discipline I would say, there wasn’t one two [unclear]
BB: No [unclear]
DB: But
BB: You know, discipline, [unclear] you know, you had leadership and you had all that other stuff
DB: Well, there as the same thing, some of the other camps were liberated, they broke into the orderly rooms and tore everything through apart but [unclear] camp, they just everything down, even their own documents so I ended up [unclear] the German documents and then I got, I don’t know the actual forger that was in the film the great escape, the real forger was a man, Duncan Black, he worked for the Edinburgh Evening Dispatch and after that, after the war went home, he’d written to, I think he’d written to everybody who was in the squadron [unclear] anyway and offered them photographs of it, he had twelve photographs, wasn’t there any chance of it but I had to pay for the
BB: Postage
DB: Transport, postage but
BB: Well, that’s good, so thank you, thank you for that
DB: I’ve got a photograph
BB: I just want to ask a couple of questions, where were you educated? Educated in Stirling?
DB: Mh?
BB: Were you educated in Stirling? High school?
DB: [unclear]
BB: At high school or?
DB: No, well, Lucas School in Riverside, secondary school.
BB: And you got married before you went on ops?
US: Married the 18th of February. Had seventy, seventy second wedding anniversary.
BB: Congratulations. Ok. [unclear] Had anybody else in your family been in the military?
US: Our son.
DB: Our son [unclear]
US: [unclear]
DB: He’s out now.
BB: [unclear] by the time you joined?
DB: No
BB: When you joined there was no family kind of
DB: Apart from my father in the First World War
BB: Yeah, well, what was he in the army?
DB: I don’t know what he was in, I know that he was called up in the Bannockburn cycling corps, in those days they were on the cycles carrying a Lewis gun on the bike and the cavalry took the fields
BB: There we go then. Now, one thing that I asked guys and it’s because I am interested in it myself, you don’t have to answer it, in, on your squadron, or do you know of it happening on squadrons, guys going LMF.
DB: Yes, there was, well, I knew one, two, not by name cause you didn’t see, you didn’t see them
BB: No, no
DB: Our own engineer landed one time and he wanted to go LMF, he said he was no, no longer going to do it, but however I was just, I had more flying hours then the rest put together because being on training command,
BB: Right, right
DB: But because there was a [unclear] there we went to see the CO, Tubby Clayton, and he just [unclear], sir, I’m not going to take any action just now, but, he says, take him out tonight and get him really drunk and come and see me the next morning. So, the next morning, we say, well, don’t [unclear] Aberdeen, Aberdeen named for George, what are you going to do then? No, no, I’m nothing to say now and that was all, we never had any more trouble. The only thing the pilot had a bit shaky thing but we never [unclear] but when we landed one time a great medical officer, Henderson, squadron leader Henderson, [unclear] anymore but he must have detected something was wrong of the pilot, [unclear], there again got said, the boatman was, he was next senior and Tubby Clayton said, the CO has mentioned [unclear], the pilot, that he doesn’t think he just [unclear] had he not [unclear], [unclear] he said, no, not really, ah well, he said, just keep an eye on him, we’ll see how it goes, but looking back at him you could see well, he was a bit upset, but he wasn’t go to let it show through, and he got over it very quickly but I think there was two or three operations, it was touch and go, I would say,
BB: Yes, I mean, it was, well, my late uncle, my mother’s sister’s husband, he was a young flying officer in the Royal Australian Air Force and she met him at a dance in Newark cause he was at 9 Squadron at Bardney and of course he knew better to dance and all the rest and my mother was, my mom and dad were down in the Midlands, and of course everybody came to stay and so on and so forth, but anyway they, he became serious but he wouldn’t marry her until he’d come off ops, he didn’t think it was fair, and he finished his ops, they got married, he went off to, instructor to an OTU, as a staff pilot, and was killed about a month later in a midair collision with a Stirling. She was left pregnant, young lassie, twenty years old, and I was brought up with his picture on the mantlepiece in his rather dark blue Australian uniform, cause the uniform was a darker blue, almost black, I wouldn’t say it was black but it was
DB: A shame
BB: It was very, yeah, and anyway, I was brought up with this and I just, my aunt remarried but I decided, when my granny died, oh, years and years later, went back, cleared the house, found the photograph, I thought, I never did find out about this bloke, so I spent the last five, the last next five years in researching him and he left home at seventeen and a half for Australia, went to train, initial training in Australia, was selected for pilot, went to Rhodesia to train, got his wings in Rhodesia, then came over here to go to the AFU, Advanced Flying Unit, with the Oxfords, and went up to this training thing till he got to 9 Squadron and he, his OTU was at Kinloss and just as you described through them all into a big hangar and it was his navigator, that was to be his navigator, a chap called Corkie [unclear], he’d been the postmaster in Ballasalla in the Isle of Man, and he was about thirty, I mean, he was old, you know, compared to young bomber guys of eighteen, nineteen, twenty, he was thirty, [coughs] so, he was the old man in the crew, and he kind of, was the father of the crew and he helped my uncle a lot and helped the whole crew a lot, but they got a rear gunner, who was a chap called Clegg and Cleggie had been a jack of all trades before the war, joined the RAF, became a full time RAF person, was doing very well, was a warrant officer, which in pre-war RAF was pretty good but he took to the drink and the women and he was knocked down several times and they said to him, right, you wanted to, you either remuster as an air gunner, a rear gunner, air gunner, rear gunner, or you go to the RAF prison. Up to you. So, he volunteered, the Cleggie was a bit of a lad but in the air, stupendous, I mean, you know, he saved the crew’s life on countless occasions
DB: [unclear] I can remember one particular [unclear] post me up to Elsham Wolds, on the [unclear] I wouldn’t go up flying that night but had operations on the radio [unclear] control tower over there and an admiral up from [unclear] to sort of be there, just witness and with a chap Pattock and the [unclear] was saying he was notorious for getting into trouble but a great pilot, coming back this night and two engines on one side were out and of course he came round a circuit, well, he didn’t even come round a circuit but he asked and they gave him a merit to land and to come in and [unclear], he’s just coming down and the next thing, aircraft commander Nathan, sort of hedgehog, hysterical [unclear] and of course Paddock had to try and go round again on two engines, he got up, up and he turned around he was [unclear] again, oh, he was cursing and swearing, [unclear] and you could hear on the loudspeaker, [unclear]
BB: Yeah, yeah.
DB: On the loudspeaker. And the admiral was killing himself laughing, he didn’t know, and the CO didn’t,
BB: [unclear]
DB: When he came round, he got round and landed alright [unclear] terrific pilot and then he was taddling into the good engines, which was lucky [laughs], they called him upstairs to fly [unclear] when he finished and of course the CO, the group captain in charge of the station, said to [unclear], what you’ve been up to [unclear] when he finished he said [unclear] and the admiral was in hysterics
BB: [unclear]
DB: [unclear] That was Paddock but [unclear] had a great [unclear] got into any trouble, police used to say, [unclear] we’ll put him on a train, alright, [unclear] and Paddock used to call him in a night’s morning, get all your flying kit on and make them walk right [laughs] and of course the pilot would be in the pilot’s parachute, he was
BB: [unclear]
DB: [laughs]
BB: Tell me, your ground crew, how did you get on with them?
DB: Both were lucky that the ground crew we had at Elsham Wolds were terrific, ah, the corporal was in charge of, I met him after the war actually when I was up at [unclear] but they were very good, and their way, you know, they would, one of the times where you would get engines changed because Elsham Wolds were just a new aircraft with the American Packard engines and similarly they were much superior to our own we had to get a change instead of [unclear] in the hangar getting down, our own crew up to do it themselves and they were then, worked together and done, you know, get the engines changed, they didn’t want to lose these engines
BB: No.
DB: They wanted the same ones [unclear]
BB: Yeah.
DB: So
BB: So, having a good ground crew was [unclear]
DB: The Poles were quite good but most of them couldn’t speak English
BB: No
DB: But I can remember the first time we went there and [unclear] one of them was really [unclear] but it took us long to the aircraft and I put a saucer down and put some fuel in them, hundred octane petrol and he walked away about so many yards and just like that and went up and just demonstrated who dangerous it is to smoke near the aircraft and that was
BB: Right
DB: And that was a pretty good lesson
BB: [unclear]
DB: But was a good station
BB: Yeah [unclear] could have gone badly wrong. Ok, well, thank you, for talking to me, and allowing me into your home, we’ll terminate the interview here, and then I’ll look at some of the documents if I may, so thank you very much
DB: [unclear]
BB: And thank you. Right, all I have to do is switch it off.
DB: [unclear] piece of the aircraft.
BB: Yes, I’m gonna get a look at that again.
DB: And there again [unclear]

Collection

Citation

Bruce Blanche, “Interview with David Berrie,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 18, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/10106.

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