Interview with Cecil Harry Chandler


Interview with Cecil Harry Chandler


Cecil ‘Chick’ Chandler trained as a flight engineer and was posted to 622 Squadron at RAF Mildenhall. On his first flight as the flight engineer the undercarriage failed. He was horrified to find that it was the different mark than he had been trained on and he had to have the assistance of the ground engineer to solve the problem. On another occasion while operational they came under attack and he had to check on the status of the rest of the crew. The sight of the bomb aimer’s shattered body made him physically sick and he also had to report that the wireless operator was fatally wounded. They had no hydraulics and also the dinghy had also been shot away and so they had no choice but to crash land at the emergency airfield at RAF Woodbridge. While on operational posting he was put forward for a second operation against his will. His new crew took off without him and crashed in front of his eyes with the loss of all crew but the badly burned gunner. He was sent to the Air Crew Disposal Unit at Keresley Grange and where he eventually was downgraded medically. The wireless operator / air gunner mentioned in this interview was Robert Edward Barnes (1385975, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve). Information kindly provided by John Holland.




Temporal Coverage




01:03:15 audio recording


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IL: Recording on the 2nd of August 2017. Ian Locker interviewing Mr Cecil who prefers to be called Chick, Chandler. Chick, so just tell us, tell us a little bit about your early life and how you came to be in Bomber Command.
CC: Right. Well, I was born in Alton. I was in a reserved occupation when the war started. I was a sort of an apprentice to a one man band engineer. But when the war started of course he branched out and became, he employed thirty people on war work. So, I was automatically in a Reserved Occupation. Now, I I didn’t like it so on my nineteenth birthday I volunteered to join aircrew. I was in the ATC. I reached the rank of flight sergeant in the ATC. I went to Reading for what they call, interviewed to find out what I was suitable for in the air force. And thirty of us there were all good flight engineers. No pilots. No navigators. All good flight engineers. So I became a flight engineer. This was in July. And I was told my engineer’s course would last for two years. I was called up December the 28th 1942 and I found my course lasted for just six months. I certainly wasn’t anywhere near prepared for flying in operations when I started operations. My training was inadequate. I spent quite a lot of time in hospital. I got injured playing football. I did all my training on Stirlings and flew in Lancasters so I wasn’t really up to it if you know what I mean. Now then [pause] what, what I’ve done I’ve got here which I wrote some time ago this is just to show how green I was. I wrote this two years ago and it’s called “Fifty Shades of Green.” On my very first leave after gaining my brevet and tapes I was proudly marching, even swaggering down the road leading to my mother’s house when a snotty nosed little kid came running up, and when he got quite close he stopped and said, ‘Oh no. It’s not a real airman. It’s only old Pop Chandler.’ Needless to say I was completely deflated. But it is said that words of wisdom are spoken by babies and sucklings and snotty nosed kids. As the following events unfolded it would seem that young Sooty Wright, the chimney sweep’s son was not far from the truth with what he had said. To start at the beginning crews were formed by putting say sixteen pilots, sixteen navigators, sixteen of every trade into a hangar. Told to sort themselves out. So, so eighty individuals came in and sixteen crews came out. And these crews went to an Operational Training Unit for about six or seven weeks where they — a crew of five flying in Wellington aircraft. When they completed this training they went to a Heavy Con Unit where they picked up another gunner and a flight engineer. No democratic choice for engineers. We were allocated a crew. I was most disappointed to be given a mere sergeant as a pilot. Being very naïve I thought a squadron leader would be a better pilot than a sergeant. However, Sergeant Brooks proved to be an outstanding pilot. The next thing might be entitled — well, no I think should have started, “Met the Airmen.” I met the crew under, under a Stirling aircraft. A Stirling aircraft. We’d stand under the aircraft with the props going and not be decapitated. I looked up and I thought — Oh my God is this mine? So, anyway we got into the aircraft and the crew had done say six weeks training maybe. I had to have a screen with me because I’d not done any flying at all. After one and a half hours the screen got out of the aircraft and I was on my own for the very first time. And downwind the pilot said, ‘I can’t get the undercarriage down.’ A chance for me to shine I thought. So I raced back to, to the offending equipment and found to my horror it wasn’t a Mark 3 undercarriage as I had been trained on. It was a Mark 1 and I had no idea how to get that down whatsoever. So, we stooged around for an hour while somebody from the ground told me what to do. Which buttons to press. Which knobs to pull. And eventually because the Stirling was electrically operated I had to wind the wheels down by hand so that nine hundred turns for each wheel. Anyway, after a while I ground both the wheels down. The little indicator reading 000. Green light on. So, I said to the skipper, ‘You can land now.’ And for some reason unknown to me, I don’t know why to this day I gave the wheel one more turn for luck and actually heard the locks clunk in. Fifteen seconds later we landed safely. Thank God. The next thing was on operations. We finished our training. Went on operations.
IL: So, how long, how long did you get your — how long was your training on the, on, actually with your crew before you actually went on to operations then?
CC: Three weeks.
IL: Right.
CC: About three weeks.
IL: And was that, was that three weeks of flying or was that just three weeks on the ground.
CC: And ground school as well. Ground school and flying. I I did a total I think — I did my total flying time was something like two hundred and eighty hours. That’s including operations. Now, today of course they talk about thousands of hours aren’t they? But anyway, that’s beside the point. Anyway, we started out. We started. We went to Mildenhall and we did a couple of mine laying trips which was standard procedure. And then we were sent to Mannheim in a Stirling. And unfortunately, half way to Mannheim I had to report that the starboard outer engine was overheating and the oil pressure was dropping. We had to drop our bombs and return to base. The pilot wasn’t at all happy. He said, ‘No. We can’t do that. We’ll be accused of LMF.’ And after quite an argument the bomb aimer stepped in who was the daddy of the crew and he said, ‘Look, you’ve got a list of what the engineer says.’ We would have been twenty minutes late and down to eight thousand feet had we carried on. So that — anyway we got back. Engineer warrant officer climbed up and confirmed my suspicion. Big oil leak, and we did the right thing to feather and come home. So, my standing with the crew was very low. You can imagine. The next trip was to Berlin in a Stirling. Now, here the navigator made a mistake. He got tired early. We arrived early over the target looking for somewhere to bomb and the rear gunner said, ‘The TIs,’ Target Indicators, ‘Are dropping behind us.’ So we had to do an orbit at thirty thousand feet over Berlin against the flow of traffic with bombs raining down all around us and then we, anyway we survived that but my prestige with the crew immediately rose because they realised then what I had known all along. It was going to be bloody dangerous. Anyway, that was our last trip in a Stirling. And then we changed to [pause] we changed to Lancasters. And our very first trip on a Lancaster was to Berlin. I’ve got a list of it somewhere. Oh, here we are. Yes. It was Berlin. Berlin again. Stuttgart. Schweinfurt. Stuttgart. Stuttgart. Frankfurt. Berlin. Essen. Nuremberg, where they lost ninety five aeroplanes. We were attacked by a fighter. [Lyon?] And Cologne. At Dusseldorf, our seventeenth op, we got hit with a shell and a fighter at the same time. And basically we had two crew members killed there and then, two injured, port inner on fire, H2S on fire. No hydraulics at all so, we didn’t have any undercarriage, no flaps, no gun turrets. Nothing working at all. And we decided to try and get back to England if we could but we’d ditch if we, if we couldn’t make it. And we were at seven thousand feet and we were losing height very quickly. And meanwhile I had to carry out checks on crew damage, crew injuries and aircraft damage. So I went in the bomb aimer’s compartment and the sight that met me — I was actually physically sick. It was such a mess. He’d been absolutely torn to pieces by this, this shrapnel that hit the aircraft. I went back to the pilot. He was, he was alright. I went back to the navigators. We had two navigators on board. One for the H2S, one for navigating. The navigation leader who was H2S operator, he appeared to be in some sort of shock. Our navigator was working normally. Went back to where the w/op should have been. But the w/op’s job during the bombing run was to go to the flare chute at the rear of the aircraft and check that the photoflash had gone. So I passed the mid-upper gunner. He’d got out of his turret. His boots, his flying boots were on fire by the way and he’d extinguished the fire in the H2S. But he couldn’t tell us because he was not on the intercom so we didn’t know it was on fire even. I got back to the rear turret where the wireless operator was checking the flash had gone and he obviously was going to be dead. He had a hole in his chest the size of a saucepan sort of thing, and his legs. Well, he was obviously going to die. So I had to report that we had one member dead. One probably dead. No hydraulics at all. And I carried an outside check on the aircraft to make sure there was no fuel leaks. And while I was checking outside of course I found where the dinghy should have been there was a great big hole that had been shot away so we had no dinghy. So we couldn’t bale out. We couldn’t ditch. And we were losing height rapidly and we, we staggered back and at one time we were at just two hundred feet above the sea. But because we were using so much fuel we gradually gained height to five hundred feet and we crossed the coast at five hundred feet and did a belly landing at Woodbridge. Now, three of us survived completely intact. Four. Four including the flight lieutenant navigator. The following night the pilot, myself, the rear gunner and the flight lieutenant were off on another raid and this time went to Karlsruhe. The crew made up of the wing commander in charge of the squadron. He was, he was a bomb aimer by trade so he came as our bomb aimer. And two, two volunteer gunners took up the other two positions of wireless op and gunner. And we were actually coned for twenty minutes. So we were twenty minutes out on the target. Of course we were spending all this time being coned. We were attacked twice in that time by a fighter. On one occasion, I didn’t see the aircraft I saw the tracer shells whizzing by. And the other one, he shot over the top of us. But anyway, we got back from that. And after that we went to a place called Cap Griz Nez which was softening up the French for D-Day. And then the crew broke up because an experienced pilot had taken a sprog crew and they’d been lost. So we had a crew without a pilot and the pilot with only half a crew. So the pilot took over the crew and left myself and the rear gunner spares. We went to another squadron. And there’s one thing I didn’t mention there that —
IL: So, that was still based at Mildenhall.
CC: Oh yeah. Yeah. In fact —
IL: There was more than one squadron flying out of there.
CC: Yeah. Two squadrons. Yeah. Yes. Yeah. Two squadrons. And I then went to another, another, another crew. So, I did one trip to Trappes and then the next thing was D-Day. I went to D-Day on the, I’ve got the 6th here. It was actually on the 5th we took off but we did bomb in daylight. And that was very successful. It was a very successful trip. Apparently the guns at Ousterheim didn’t fire a single round. It was very highly successful and we got a signal from the beaches saying we had done a grand job and they hadn’t fired a single round. Went back the same day to a place called Liseaux and that was communications. Then we carried on then and I got to my twenty seventh op. Went to a place called a Wizernes and it was a storage depot for V-2s. We bombed successfully. Came back at eight thousand feet. And on the way back another Lancaster formated us just slightly behind. Slightly below. At about five hundred yards away on the starboard side so I could see him very clearly. I was told, ‘Keep an eye on him because we don’t know what he’s up to.’ We had no idea. But he formated on us. Anyway, after eight or nine minutes it suddenly blew up. Boof, just blew up like that. And what I didn’t know and nobody seemed to know at the time was the Germans had cannons that fired upwards called Schräge Musik. Have you heard of Schräge Musik?
IL: Well, I’ve read about it.
CC: Yeah. Well, these things they slipped behind the aircraft, do that — and at fifty feet fire just two shells. Explosive incendiary into, into inboard or outboard, inboard fuel tanks and of course the aircraft blew up. And I didn’t know. All there was was Lancaster one minute. ME110 the next. Now of course he attacked us of conventionally then and luckily we shot him down. And seconds later a JU88 attacked us and luckily we shot him down. So, in nine minutes we shot down two enemy aircraft. At the time I wasn’t too convinced we’d shot them down because I can’t see what’s going on behind but it so happened that in that thing there another mid-upper gunner saw the action taking place and asked his skipper could he go and join in? The skipper said, ‘Not bloody likely.’ And so they came back and reported what they’d seen at the same briefing we were at. So, it sort of confirmed my, I was very doubtful and now I was convinced of course. So, that, that’s basically — One thing I didn’t mention to you that when we were attacked by this at, at Dusseldorf it was rather funny. I’ll just read you what I’ve written down actually because it’s quite interesting I’m sure. [laughs]
Yes. Skip this, it says that the bombs were actually dropping from the aircraft with a tremendous explosion. Here I should explain at this instance I experienced a very strange sensation. For a very brief period of time everything seemed to happen in ultra-slow motion. I felt myself not sat on my back. I felt myself falling. And as I was falling I saw sparks going above the cockpit the wrong way. I thought if that’s the engine on fire the sparks — and this is ultra-seconds. Hit the ground and it was then I realised the sparks were in fact tracer shells being fired from a fighter. I didn’t know. And they appeared to be doing that because we were doing that.
IL: Yes.
CC: You know. Anyway, when I was laid flat on my back my nose pointing to the front of the aircraft, my head to the front there, my feet to the tail I couldn’t move. I didn’t know why I didn’t move but of course it was G wasn’t it? Yeah. I didn’t know. I didn’t know about G. I didn’t know about adrenalin. The reason everything was in slow-mo was adrenalin of course. Adrenalin pumps. Everything was in slow motion and I couldn’t move because I was pinned up with G. Anyway, we were going along like that to fourteen, from twenty two to fourteen thousand feet. The pilot pulled out at fourteen thousand feet. He said, ‘Bale out.’ But before we could bale out we went down from fourteen to seven thousand feet and he pulled out again and someone said, ‘I can’t bale out. My parachute’s burned.’ In fact, three parachutes had been burned. We didn’t know that at the time. And that’s when we we staggered back to England and we finally crash landed. I’ll say another, another thing that quite unaccountable but I saw in my mind’s eye, you know. You know what I’m talking about? Something you see in your mind’s eye. I saw very clearly a telegram boy walking up our garden path whistling very cheerily. Handing my mother a telegram saying I’d been killed. And she thanked him. She was very calm and thanked him for taking the trouble of delivering the message. So, in the middle of my rest period, six month rest period, you probably know about the six month rest period. I I was sent to an aircrew school as a ground instructor. I’d been there about three months.
IL: Where was that? Sorry.
CC: Do you know I can’t remember.
IL: Oh, I see. Ok.
CC: I can not. I’ve tried all I can and I can’t remember. But silly isn’t it? Anyway, it was a bleak period of time and I think I wanted to forget quite frankly. But basically a very young officer told me to clean his car. And I told him in no uncertain terms what he’d do with his car. Unfortunately, the following day the flight lieutenant who was our squadron leader, who was in charge of, our engineering leader was killed in a flying accident and this man became my temporary immediate boss. And he took it out on me. He sent me off to escort a prisoner. Three days away. Handcuffed through London with the arms out, all the rest of it. I came back and he said to me, ‘I’ve got good news for you,’ he said, ‘You’re going back on ops.’ I said, ‘I’ve got some bad news for you. I’m not.’ Anyway, I slipped up very badly here. All I should have done was gone to the CO and said, ‘Look, I’ve not volunteered for this. He’s volunteered me.’ But I allowed myself to be moved to a Heavy Conversion Unit where I met the new crew I was to fly with. Squadron leader. All volunteer second tour and the first thing I said to the squadron leader was, ‘I’m flying with you now but I’m not flying on ops because I’ve got three months rest period due to me.’ And he said, ‘Well, you’re no good to me.’ And he detailed another chap to take my place. He got airborne and five minutes later they crashed five hundred yards from me. And they were all killed except one in a big explosion. And so then they said I was LMF. I’ll read, I’ll read what it says — it says, “How I, how I became branded LMF.” On completion of my tour I was posted to a Number 3 Group aircrew school as a ground instructor. Unfortunately, I can’t recall the station. I do recall after a few weeks the unit moved to a different air force. Again, I can’t recall the station. The time can be worked out fairly accurately. About three months after I finished my tour. 10th of July 1944. One day a very junior officer ordered me to clean his car. I responded by telling him in most lurid terms what he could do with his car. Here I digress. With a little more experience of the Royal Air Force procedures I should have taken objected in front of him and cleaned his car and then put in a redress of grievance. Unfortunately, the following day the engineer leader was killed and this junior officer took over and became my boss. He immediately began giving me menial tasks. I’m sure in an attempt to provoke me to some indiscretion. After a week or so he sent me somewhere [unclear] to escort a prisoner who had committed some sort of crime. On return I found that he had volunteered me to do a second tour. Here my lack of nous was apparent. My action should have been to request to see the CO. The whole story would have been resolved immediately. I ought not to have left the station. As it was I was sent to a Heavy Conversion Unit where I met the new crew. Met under a Lancaster standing in dispersal. My first action was to inform the pilot I was not a volunteer. I would fly with them on training but not on ops. I was still entitled to three months rest. He was very understanding but said — what did he say? [pause]
Other: You’re no use to me.
CC: I was no interest. There was no, I was no use to him and he took a fellow to take my place. The crew took off [unclear] and at about five hundred feet feathered the port outer engine. Dived into the ground five hundred from me. Waited for a bus to take me to dispersal. The rear gunner was the sole survivor and very badly burned. From that moment I was branded LMF. And that’s how I became branded LMF.
IL: So, who branded you LMF?
CC: It was there.
IL: It was the air force?
CC: Well, whoever it was. I don’t know. Because I, because I wasn’t killed that day they said I was LMF. But luckily, you see I was sent to Minster on the Isle of Sheppey. That’s away from any aircrew at all. And then I was sent to a place called Keresley Grange to be stripped. You know, in front of everybody. Stripped. So, I sat before a board the day before this was going to take place and the squadron leader said, ‘You shouldn’t be here.’ I said, ‘I’ve been telling you that for the last ten weeks.’ He said, ‘Well, that’s fine,’ he said, ‘But you realise that in two weeks’ time your three months are up. What’s, what’s your intention then?’ So, I said, ‘Well, look since I’ve had such a bad three months I think I should have a three months extension.’ This seemed to cause some controversy. Anyway, he sent the other two flight lieutenants out and left me and him together and he said, ‘Flight sergeant. You have failed an aircrew medical.’ ‘But sir, I —’ ‘Flight sergeant, are you listening? You have failed an aircrew medical. March out.’ And that’s how I became an air traffic controller.
IL: Right. So did you immediately go to air traffic control?
CC: Yeah. I was given a choice. They said because I was a Group A tradesman theoretically I could become an engine fitter or an air traffic controller. But I’d seen what these poor engine fitters had been through in the winter nights changing an engine. Bitterly cold. I thought no. I’ll opt for a nice little caravan with a WAAF on my knee sort of thing, you know [laughs] And it was good. That was the best move I ever made in my whole life. It was. I took to it like a duck to water. I left the air force for a very short time and went back to my old job which I didn’t like. So I re-joined the air force. This time as a sergeant air traffic controller and I stayed for well over thirty years doing a job I loved.
IL: How did it work with air traffic control?
CC: Well, when I became an air traffic controller it was a duty pilot on the end of the runway in a black and white painted caravan. And all the equipment you had was a red and green Aldis lamp and a verey pistol. And that’s all you had. And gradually it worked out so that you could listen to people on the radio. Then it got to the stage where you could actually talk on the radio to people. So, you could actually talk to people. And then of course it progressed on to radar. Well, I didn’t like radar at first. I didn’t. You can’t talk to a blip on the screen but you can in fact. It worked very well. And after initial sort of misgivings I became quite a competent air traffic controller. I was renowned for my talk down skills actually. And so I became basically a talk down controller in the air force and I got quite a high reputation for the way I handled things. I can tell you another story about that but that’s nothing to do with flying.
IL: No. Please do.
CC: Well —
IL: Please do.
CC: Towards the end of my, my service career I was a duty air traffic controller on what they called QRA. Quick Reaction Alert. You’ve heard of that of course. No? Well, Quick Reaction Alert. At the end of the runway at Brüggen there were two aircraft armed with nuclear weapons and they had two minutes to take off. So you had to have an air traffic controller on duty 24/7. And your job was to, you know if the balloon went up get these people airborne to go and bomb out the Russians. But just, and all the stations had these two aircraft of course. There weren’t just two aircraft but there were two what they called Quick Reaction Alert. But I was a Quick Reaction Alert controller. On a Sunday I’m laying in bed in my pyjamas reading the News of the World. And my job was to answer the telephone. I daren’t leave the telephone. If I went to the loo, ‘I’m going to the loo.’ ‘I’m back from the loo.’ That sort of thing, you see. Anyway, the front doorbell rang and standing at the front door was a very young airman, I thought. And he said, ‘I’m Squadron Leader Gleed. Can I come in?’ I said, ‘Where’s you’re 1250?’ Your identification. Your 1250 identity card? [pause] You haven’t got it.’ I said, ‘Corporal, I didn’t come up on a banana boat. Piss off.’ Unfortunately, he was my new boss. And he never forgave me. He gunned for me for two years. And one of the things he did because I was, I was, you know I was quite an experienced controller. I’d been over thirty one years. I knew the job backwards. So, I was a controller upstairs in what they called local van. And a controller downstairs on PR. I could do both. And this particular day I was upstairs with a trainee flight sergeant. And the trainee flight sergeant, I had to pass out whether he was good enough to be on his own or not. Basically, after a couple of hours I said, ‘Yes. This man’s very competent. I’m handing him the watch.’ So, I handed him the watch. Signed off. Waited to go home. My boss phoned up. ‘Come downstairs to the radio room now.’ So, I went down to the radio room and it was absolute chaos. There was a — and he said, he sat me in the chair, ‘Get him in.’ Now, ‘him’ was a Phantom and the Phantom had a BLC malfunction. Now that meant that he couldn’t, he couldn’t slow down. He had a, he had a flying speed all the time which was very fast in a phantom. And he had to take the approach hook wire, and but of course I broke all the rules. The first thing I said was, ‘Turn left ten degrees. Begin descent, read back QFE,’ and that was, you know you’re not supposed to do that but quite a sharp turn on final approach. Anyway, he came in weaving and diving and ducking. I finally got him lined up at one and a half miles and he successfully took the hook wire which was the, what the rotary arrester, rotary hydraulic arrester gear rag. Hook wire I called them. He took the hook wire. My boss said, ‘Come downstairs,’ and he started telling me off about the way I’d handled this which I shouldn’t have been doing of course. He could have done it and the two other controllers. They both should have done it. But he got me downstairs to do it, you see. He started telling me off. Now, in the middle of all this the phone bell rang and he said, ‘It’s for you.’ [unclear] Chandler.’ ‘He said, ‘Mr Chandler, did you just talk down aircraft —’ so and so and so and so? ‘Yes.’ ‘Thank you very much,’ he said, ‘You saved our lives.’ Pilot and navigator. ‘Will you start again sir?’ And my boss said, ‘I don’t care. It wasn’t perfect.’ However, the following, the following morning the squadron assigned aeroplane came in, full dress uniform with sword to thank me personally in front of my boss. And my boss looked bootfaced and sullen. I thought, up yours mate [laughs] So, that was one of the many things he had at me. It was another instance was the Phantoms were just leaving Brüggen and the new aircraft were coming. I think they were Jaguars. I’m not sure but I think they were Jaguars. The first Jaguar that came, came in and asked for a PAR. So, you know, ‘Steady. Ok, runway 26, maintain heading. Read back QFE.’ ‘Read back QFE 1009.’ ‘Wrong. 1016. Acknowledge.’ ‘Acknowledged. 1016.’ But he never changed. So he’s two hundred and, two hundred and ten feet lower than he thought he was. So he hit the ground with a tremendous bang. You can imagine. And he complained that I’d given him the wrong QFE. My boss got to warrant officer so I was taken off control room immediately. The next morning a Board of Enquiry was convened. At the board, at the Board of Enquiry was the station commander, a wing commander flying, my boss the squadron leader, the bloke flying the aeroplane. He had a legal representative to represent him. I had myself. And a couple of other flight lieutenants and the tapes were played back. Well, the minute the tape was played back it was obvious I was one hundred percent right. It could have come straight from the training manual. You know.
IL: Yeah.
CC: It really was so perfect. So, obviously there was only one possible finding they could possibly have. I wasn’t guilty of anything at all. But before the board could announce their findings my boss said, ‘A perfectly understandable mistake. The pilot had been very busy all day and was probably very tired.’ So, I thought well thanks very much mate, you know. That’s very kind of you. Anyway, it didn’t wash. The pilot was wrong and I was right and that was the end of the story. So anyway , I haven’t read any of that yet have I? [laughs] Oh yeah —
IL: Can we just come back to just explore a couple of things? You said that you were in the ATC. Was that from school?
CC: No. I think the ATC started when [pause] I think it was about 1960 err 1936 I think. Anyway, I joined when it started in Alton. I was a sort of a founder member at Alton.
IL: Right.
CC: Whenever that was. And of course being a founding member I became a flight sergeant fairly quickly. We had a Warrant Officer Eades, he was a very very brainy bloke. Flight sergeant [unclear] who was also particularly brainy and I made up the other flight sergeant. And there was me. I was, I was adequate. But as I say and I had a certificate from the ATC saying I was suitable for pilot/navigator/bomb aimer training. PNB. They didn’t want PNBs. They wanted engineers. I was an engineer. From the time I, the time I signed up I was an engineer. Not a very good engineer but I was an engineer. I I think I don’t know, anything I’ve forgotten to tell you? Oh, did I tell you about — yes, I told you about the Schräge Musik didn’t I?
IL: You did.
CC: Yeah.
IL: And seeing the, seeing, seeing the Lancaster explode.
CC: Yeah. That was, that was — but you see I didn’t know what it was. Well, if the Air Force knew they weren’t going to tell us. They didn’t tell us. But I believe later on in the war, later on the war I think they fixed Halifaxes. Instead of having a H2S bulge underneath they fitted a twin machine gun, .5 millimetre to tackle this. Because I knew about that. He didn’t shoot at anybody but he, that’s what his job was. He was laying on the floor looking down for aircraft coming underneath. So, I told you that. I’ve told you that. What I didn’t mention to you by the way, when I said we shot aircraft down when the aircraft, when we were attacked by the first ME110 the rear gunner only had one gun fire in his turret. And the mid-upper gunner had daylight tracer loaded in one so he couldn’t fire until he’d disconnected the daylight tracing. I don’t know how it came back to that. We did actually definitely shoot down two aeroplanes in the space of nine minutes and all in all I survived eleven fighter attacks in total which it was maybe not a record but it comes pretty close I tell you.
IL: Absolutely, because —
CC: Yeah. Yeah.
IL: I think most of the people who I’ve spoken to on, you know out of their, out of thirty operations most people will say they saw maybe two, possibly three fighters. Just saw. You know. Not necessarily attacked. You know. They obviously ,they talk about, you know sort of anti-aircraft fire as well.
CC: Yeah. Yeah.
IL: But it certainly, you know, you don’t seem to — you seem to have been very lucky in an unlucky sense. If you see what I mean.
CC: I, no, I was very lucky. I think, you know to survive eleven is quite something. I think we were actually hit three times. The first time we were hit was the Nuremberg raid when we had the petrol tank holes but no casualties. And the second time we were hit was at Dusseldorf where we had two people killed. But that was more flak then fighter but the fighter did attack us and set the engine on fire. And then we had two dos at Karlsruhe. You see. And then on that other thing we had they attacked us seven times altogether. But as I say on the third occasion we shot one or the fourth, so a total of eleven which is, well as I say pretty good.
IL: Yeah. Can, can I and you don’t have to answer this but one of the things that you mentioned obviously, you know having two of your colleagues killed in a, in the plane and you’re the one who finds them. How did, how did that make you feel? What were your — what sort of —
CC: Well, I was physically sick at the time when I saw the bomb aimer. I actually vomited. It was such a mess, you know. I’d never seen a dead body in my life. To see that. That was something.
IL: Did you get any, as you know I’m a retired doctor. I’ve dealt with trauma, you know. Did you have any first aid medical training?
CC: Oh yeah. Yeah. We had morphine and things like that on board. Yeah. They’d have pumped morphine in to the, in to the wireless operator. I don’t, I don’t know. I didn’t do that because as I say basically we had a couple of spare crew. The navigating leader he couldn’t, H2S was on fire so he was on dosing, dosing out medication and throwing stuff overboard. But then he had nothing else to do anyway had he? I mean he couldn’t, he couldn’t use H2S. It was on fire.
IL: How did you give the morphine? Was it sort of just —
CC: I guess —
IL: Intramuscular?
CC: As far as I know a needle. I don’t —
IL: It was a needle into a muscle.
CC: I didn’t do it myself.
IL: But as I say did anybody train you?
CC: No. I wasn’t trained on that at all. No.
IL: Oh.
CC: No.
IL: And —
CC: My training was most inadequate I tell you. It really was.
IL: Did you have any — did it, how did you feel when you, you know you get back? You know, because certainly [pause] the, and correct me if I’m wrong but the feeling that when you talk to most people is that the crew became almost like a family.
CC: Yeah.
IL: You socialised together.
CC: Yeah.
IL: You, you know, you fly together. You risk your lives together. And losing two of those, two of those crew members in an incredibly, you know, in a [pause] you said you flew the next day.
CC: Yeah. Yeah.
IL: Was there any consideration given or any —
CC: No. No. I I I think one of the things that made me very cross was when we got back we did this crash landing. I thought I might get a word of consolation and a cup of hot cocoa with some rum in it. And they give me a report to fill in. You know, ‘Fill that in.’ Well, I’m afraid that I didn’t put anything very kind there at all. I was very upset about it, you know. I I put “We’re bloody lucky to be here.” And that’s, that’s what I put. But, you see, I mean I had, had they said, ‘Oh that was tough. Have a cup of coffee and would you mind filling this in?’ But, ‘Fill that in.’ Oh. That hurts. I’ve got something here I want to read to you if I can. Let me just see.
CC: I can’t find it.
CC: Here we are. It says, “In spite of all this I can remember very little of the actual trip. Certainly, we were heavily coned by enemy searchlights at between three and four thousand feet but for some quite unaccountable reasons were not engaged. Again for no reason actually I cannot recall being unduly alarmed. Possibly as that by now I’d resigned myself to my fate or because I was so aware of the critical fuel situation that I had pushed all other problems to one side. I wasn’t actually frightened coming back. I don’t know why but I wasn’t.
IL: No.
CC: I should have been. I was frightened all the while going out and coming back every time but when we were in that position I was suddenly very calm. I I don’t know why. I don’t know why. But as I say possibly I resigned myself to my fate. More likely because I was so busy making sure that the — I’d got the fuel right. Because it was very critical. If we had so much as coughed we’d have been down in the sea. So I had to make sure that the fuel was absolutely — checking and checking and checking and checking. And re-checking and re-checking. You know. It was a full time job basically. I think shortly after we started I said — the navigator asked how much time we had in the air. Well, we all worked out what the time was but I thought how much time do you want? And he gave me a time. I thought well that’s, I reckon we’ve got about twenty minutes to spare. So I said, ‘We’ve got about ten minutes to spare and possibly a little more.’ And that was if everything worked perfectly. But we didn’t run out so it must have been more or less right anyway. But you know I didn’t like to commit myself too [laughs] I think —
IL: Did, did you have [pause] did you have any problems either as I say, you know at the time or later on? Having, you know did you ever have any flashbacks or any —
CC: Not really. No. No. No. I didn’t really. No. We, we didn’t even talk about it until 1987. And that was when — I, I should have mentioned it. What — I cheated a little bit when I was flying. I learned from experience that the Lancaster took off on the ground and went to twenty two thou, twenty two thousand feet it was almost inevitable you used the same amount of fuel. You know, that was common sense.
IL: Yeah.
CC: After, after three or four ops it was exactly the same as the last time. And when you got to your level you flew slightly less revs and boost, slightly less fuel but you knew from experience what it would be. So what I did twenty minutes before the target and twenty minutes after the target I took, I’d already done that but that was already filled in so that I could then just look at the fuel gauges.
IL: Yeah.
CC: Look at the gauges now and again. Spend my time looking out to see what was happening. And that’s when I saw, but the gunners obviously missed it, this JU88. He was about nine hundred yards boring in on us and I screamed, ‘Corkscrew starboard go.’ And as we did that he fired and his cannon shells instead of hitting the fuselage sliced through the port wing. That’s when we had the fuel tank damaged. But had I not been doing that we’d have definitely been shot down. But as I say I wasn’t doing my log. I’d done that forty minutes in advance anyway because from, from experience I knew what it would be. It’s the same every time. Unless you got coned or something like that. Then of course you had to make adjustments. But it was every time the same you see. You climbed to twenty two thousand feet. You were flying level for so long. You start descending you use less fuel. It worked every time so I thought I, well I won’t spend time working that out. I’ll work it out beforehand. I cheated a bit but it worked.
IL: So, what, obviously flight, flight engineer’s duties — what exactly were they?
CC: Basically, you controlled the fuel. And you had a toolbox. What on earth for I don’t know. In the toolbox there was a piece of hooked wire which you could undo a little panel on the floor of the aircraft and release the bomb manually by tugging on this thing. But I never had occasion to do that. If you had a hold up, a hang-up you could actually release, the engineer’s job was to release the hang-up with this piece of hooked wire. But what the other tools were for I don’t know. I had no idea. I had pliers and hammers and — no. Never had to use them.
IL: And you only ever had to release the undercarriage, the wheels once.
CC: Yeah.
IL: That was on your first. First ever —
CC: Yeah. The first ever trip. Yeah. The first time I was airborne basically on my own the wheels stuck up. Now, of course I got instruction from the ground what to do and I found I’d got an engineer’s logbook after the war actually. I’ve still got it. But what they told me was all wrong. What should have happened was I should never — the navigator and the wireless op should have done a wheel each and I should have made sure they both went down together. Because if you’ve got one wheel up and one wheel down that was absolutely fatal isn’t it?
IL: Yeah.
CC: If that one had gone down and this one hadn’t we would have been — well we were bound to have tipped over when we landed. Bound to. But I didn’t know that would happen. I got that one down and that one as well. But if that one had stuck. But you couldn’t wind up again of course. You can’t wind it. You can’t wind it up.
IL: So, did Stirlings not normally have a flight engineer?
CC: Oh yeah.
IL: Oh, sorry. Sorry. Because you were saying about the crew.
CC: The crew of five flew in Wellingtons.
IL: Oh right.
CC: So, they —
IL: The Wellingtons didn’t have a flight engineer.
CC: No. They didn’t have a mid-upper gunner and didn’t have a flight engineer. So the crew of five did their training at Operational Training Unit. Went to Heavy Conversion Unit. Picked up another gunner who had done some flying obviously. Training flying. And the flight engineer. Well, I’d never flown in my life. It was a completely new experience for me. Not, not a very happy one but still [laughs]
IL: Did you — I’ve, I’ve spoken to some flight engineers who’d done some pilot training.
CC: Yeah.
IL: Did some flight training and you know would have potentially been the person to take over.
CC: Yes. I know. I knew several that did that. Yes.
IL: If the plane had.
CC: Yeah.
IL: You know if the pilot had been, you know like when you were —
CC: In actual fact, on one occasion —
IL: One of the others were killed.
CC: On one occasion I was able to sit in the pilot’s seat but I was not a pilot and it was quite obvious after three minutes I got out there I had no idea how to fly an aeroplane. No idea. Of course, some of them of course had done partial pilot training hadn’t they?
IL: Yeah. Yeah.
CC: And they’d failed. Failed the course and then been generally became bomb aimers. Generally. But they could also became flight engineers.
IL: Right. Ok. So, in your crew had anything happened to the pilot who would have flown the plane? There wasn’t anybody.
CC: Nobody. Mind you the bomb aimer had, had failed the pilot’s course so he was probably the man to fly it because he had, you know he’d been on a course. Failed the pilot’s course so became a bomb aimer. So he must have had some idea how to fly. I had no idea at all.
IL: Yeah.
CC: I was, I was so green. I really was green. I shouldn’t have been allowed in the air quite frankly but that’s what it is.
IL: But this is, you know one of the things that, you know one of the things that obviously and particularly your, you know some of your later experiences as well is this, was there a disconnect do you think from between the people who were managing? You know, the sort of higher officers and the people who were flying because you know you were saying that you know when you came back from having lost friends and you’d had this, you know incredibly, you know — you’d just survived and of course the first thing is, ‘Fill in this form.’
CC: That’s right. Yeah. Yeah.
IL: Did you, did you, you know the person who was asking you to do that was someone who had been, who had flown or was that somebody who is —
CC: No. I don’t. I don’t think. I don’t think so. No. I don’t think so. I don’t think any — I think that was their job and that’s what they did. Asked you to fill that form in. I I was, well I was quite shocked really. I thought well they’re going to say have a cup. What I fancied was a cup of cocoa with some rum in it. That’s what you normally got. You see. That was after. But I was quite rude about it. I said, ‘We’re bloody lucky to be here,’ and that, that was it.
IL: So, but you presumably landed at a different base. You didn’t go — get back to Mildenhall.
CC: We crashed at —
IL: Crashed.
CC: Crash landed at Woodbridge. Woodbridge was their specialist for people like us. it was three runways wide and two runways long.
IL: Right.
CC: So, when you —
IL: And so, where is Woodbridge?
CC: On the, on the Suffolk coast. Right on the coast.
IL: Right.
CC: Yeah. Oh yes. I should have —
IL: Mildenhall is in Suffolk isn’t it?
CC: Sorry? Yeah.
IL: Mildenhall is in Suffolk? It is.
CC: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. But as I say these, when we came in there was a red, white and a green landing light. So it was three runways wide and we should have landed in the red one of course because we didn’t have any wheels but we, we came across in at an angle. We sort of came in at an angle and drifted across all three runways in the end. But I probably should have mentioned that on the Lancaster there was a pneumatic system which should lower the undercarriage if you had no hydraulics. And we had no hydraulics. So my job was to lower the undercarriage pneumatically. Couldn’t test it of course because any minute we were going to fall out of the sky. So we waited until we were actually over the runway and I pulled the toggle. It should have let the wheels down and they didn’t come down. And there again I had this terrible slow motion feeling. Sheer terror basically. A feeling of the ground rushing up towards me and when we hit the ground the blister on the side of the Lancaster I actually saw that break off. You know, normally you wouldn’t see it would you?
IL: No.
CC: Because you were [pause] I did. It was the adrenalin. I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know what caused this terrible slo-mo. Everything was happening in slow motion. As we hit the ground I saw this thing break away and I just hung on to the pilot’s seat. And I was still hung on there when we finished. When we finished. Straight through the escape hatch at the top. The first one out. I trod on the navigator’s fingers on the way out [laughs]
IL: How [pause] sorry I’ve forgotten what I was going to say.
Other: I was just looking up Woodbridge. It’s, yeah it’s, “Emergency constructed in the southeast as one of three airfields set up to accept distressed aircraft returning from raids over Germany and was therefore fitted with extra long heavy duty runways. The other two being RAF Manston in Kent and RAF Carnaby.”
CC: Coningsby.
IL: Coningsby. Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
Other: Carnaby.
CC: Yeah.
Other: In Yorkshire.
IL: Oh Carnaby.
Other: Carnaby in Yorkshire.
IL: Carnaby in Yorkshire.
CC: Carnaby. Yeah.
Other: These airfields —
CC: Yeah. Yeah, as I say —
IL: That’s near Bridlington.
CC: It’s, it was quite an experience I can tell you coming and seeing the ground rushing up. Thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to be catapulted through the windscreen. I’ve come all this way and I’m going through the bloody windscreen,’ but I didn’t. I think the reason we had a fairly good landing was that the bomb doors were stuck open. Of course, we couldn’t close them. We had no hydraulics and I think they took the initial shock if you like. The initial impact was probably taken by the bomb wearing away. You know, just, I don’t know. But that was my theory.
IL: Were these tarmacked runways or were they grass runways?
CC: I think —
Other: It was —
CC: Oh no, no. No grass.
IL: No.
CC: You never took off on grass. I think in the Stirling at one time because the north south runway was always very short we actually started to take off on the grass because, to give us the extra sixty yards or whatever it was. But normally no. It had to be —
IL: No.
CC: It had to be tarmac.
IL: It’s just most people of my generation most of our thoughts about this, they come from films.
CC: Yeah.
IL: You know, and the Battle of Britain.
CC: Yeah.
IL: They flew off from the grass runways and the thing about the [pause] certainly the Lancaster and you know Bomber Command type films you always imagine there was a co-pilot because they’re was always two aren’t there?
CC: There — there used to be co-pilots but of course they didn’t have enough pilots to go around, did they?
IL: No. No. But as I say the — you know the films.
CC: That’s right. Yeah. Yeah.
IL: Film vision.
CC: Yes.
IL: The film vision from the Dam Busters.
CC: Yeah.
IL: Is that —
CC: A co-pilot.
IL: You know, that there are two and they chat to each other.
CC: Yeah.
IL: And they’re all terribly, terribly stiff upper lip and, you know.
CC: Yeah. That isn’t so. In fact, in, in the Lancaster of course you just had the control column and the left hand seat. Now, the other seat was a bucket seat where you clip on or let down. I never ever used that. I never ever used the bucket seat. I stood all the way there and all the way back. I didn’t want — if I had get out I wanted to get quick. Same as the parachute. Now, I don’t know if you know but when we were hit with the shell I didn’t know but I was told to put my parachute on and it, it felt slack. I thought I know it’s not slack because it’s always tight. What I didn’t know was I had no back to the parachute. It had been shot away. I didn’t know that. That’s a fact. Yeah. I didn’t. I didn’t. No one knew until we landed.
IL: Yeah.
CC: I didn’t. There was no back to my parachute. But I thought, I know it’s not slack because it was always tight. It was just these nerves. I’m going to jump. And had I jumped of course we’d have parted company. But I was lucky wasn’t I?
IL: You were amazing.
CC: I was lucky. I don’t think anybody, yes I think there were two people luckier than me. I think one person had baled out at twenty thousand feet without a parachute and survived. Do you remember reading about that?
IL: I don’t.
CC: Apparently, he’d baled out at twenty thousand with no parachute. He jumped. And he landed through a pine forest. He went — the pines broke his fall and landed in about forty foot of snow. He was badly, badly cut up of course but he survived and — oh the other one was the flight engineer who climbed out on the wing to put a, to put a fire out. Did you read about that? Apparently this, this engineer fool had been, you know — so he got a fire extinguisher. He climbed out on the wing with his big [unclear] parachute and of course he got blown off and they assumed he was killed. But he survived and he got a VC.
IL: Goodness me.
CC: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, can you, can you, I mean can you imagine me climbing out on the wing of a hundred and eighty miles an hour, whatever it is, with a, with a fire extinguisher to put a fire out? I mean it’s just a waste of time isn’t it?
IL: Nowadays —
CC: Very brave.
IL: Nowadays he wouldn’t get a VC. He’d get — what do you call it? The Darwin Award. You know, this thing for if you die doing something stupid [laughs]
CC: Yeah [laughs] Well, yeah. That, that I think they were both, I think the fella who baled out without a parachute from twenty thousand feet and survived — I think he must be the luckiest. He died fairly recently actually. You know, I get the Telegraph and in the obituaries.
IL: Yeah.
CC: Well, four or five years ago now but I remember reading that he actually jumped without a parachute and survived. He went through this, through the pine forest. Luckily he hit the part where the leaves, where the branch broke his fall and landed in about forty feet of snow. But there were not many luckier than me I can assure you.
IL: Oh, absolutely not.
CC: Not many.
IL: You said that you had your first, was it your first reunion?
CC: Yeah.
IL: And kept getting back together.
CC: 1987.
IL: So who facilitated that? Was that sort of —
CC: The pilot. Now, the pilot was interviewed through the book sales or something. He was interviewed anyway and he put a notice in “Air Mail” or something like that for me to contact him. Well, I never saw it but Bill who worked at the hospital here had a patient. He was a nurse. He had a patient and he said, ‘Is your name Chandler?’ I’ve got a brother who’s in the air force. Well, you see, he might be interested in that. Anyway, it was my pilot trying to contact me. And I contacted him in 1987 and by then the book had been published. The book by [Maxwell John?] the bombers and the men who flew with 15. All about the pilots of course but I was mentioned in it. And as a result of being mentioned somebody else then an American contacted me actually.
CC: The book’s amazing, that, that book there. See the front cover. The Lancs across the ball. It’s there look.
IL: So, is this, is this yours?
CC: Yeah. Yeah.
IL: Gosh.
CC: The, the bloke who, the bloke that, Colonel Mark Wells, it’s — I’ve marked where in there. That’s the letter he sent me about LMF. And that’s the letter he sent me and at page 202 and its only a, you know fifty or sixty lines but it’s very interesting. Read it if you want to. Just —
IL: Yeah. Absolutely.
CC: There’s the page 202. You’ve got 202 there, have you?
IL: I have 203-202.
CC: Yeah. 202 you want. Where does it start? Let me see.
IL: Well, what I’ll do is I’ll take a photograph.
CC: Well, that’s fine.
IL: I’ll take a photograph of this page so that we can read —
CC: No, that’s, it starts there look. And that’s the letter he sent me. But if you want to take a photograph by all means.
IL: Absolutely, because I think that’s, it’s fascinating.
CC: But in actual fact although that photograph, that photograph also appeared on — what was it? The big book. The big book on the bottom. The big book on the bottom there.
Other: Is it “Courage and Air Warfare.”
CC: Yeah.
IL: This one here?
CC: No. No. No. No. No. “We Wage War One Night.” Where’s that? Oh, it’s there. “We Wage War One Night.” [pause] I’m in, I’m in all these books by the way. Mentioned in them all.
CC: Now, the original. The original. The original book of that also had that picture on the front cover.
IL: Oh right.
CC: But when we tried to get hold of it, do you remember, Sally?
Other: Yeah. The first edition —
CC: Sally will explain it.
Other: It was, had that picture on the front cover but we, we’ve always, a friend saw it. You know, the new editions have got the more modern cover.
IL: Yeah.
Other: And so we, a friend contacted us and said that he’d seen one of the first editions on Ebay so we ordered two copies and when they turned up they were actually — it was the new covers. They were. It was just an archived picture they’d used for their —
IL: Such a shame.
CC: I was disappointed.
Other: Yeah.
CC: Because, you know it would be nice to have two. Two photographs.
IL: Absolutely.
Other: Yeah.
CC: I was disappointed with that but there you are. You can’t win them all can you?
IL: No. So who was your second pilot?
CC: A bloke called Flight Lieutenant Hargraves. He got a DFC. The navigator got a DFC. The rear gunner got a DFM. And the new, and the old crew the pilot got a DFC. The navigator got a DFM. The rear got a DFM. And the squadron leader, the flight lieutenant navigator who was a [unclear] he got a DFC. So about seven people got DFCs and two killed. But I was alright jack.
IL: Yeah. But you know I think you were part of the same crew. It just doesn’t sort of, doesn’t seem fair somehow.
CC: It’s strange isn’t it? I think they were allocated a number of medals and issued. And you were, if your face fitted you got a medal basically. The thing that annoyed me very much indeed but I flew with Oliver Brooks and Oliver Brooks became quite a famous pilot because of his exploits in the book there. And a Flight Lieutenant Amies took a new crew and got killed so, Oliver Brooks took all of the crew that he’d left behind. Now, nothing happened to them at all other than they lost a pilot. And they all got a medal. Everyone got, because they were Oliver Brooks’ crew. Not because of what they did but because Oliver Brooks finished his tour. I mean they all got a medal. Every last man got a medal. Nothing happened to them at all. Silly isn’t it?
IL: Absolutely. And just one final question. How did you feel after the end of the war with, you know with the essentially, I think [pause] you know, almost being forgotten?
CC: Well, yeah, I [pause] I didn’t, I expected more than I got. I say I left. I left the Air Force as an air traffic controller and I went back to my old job which was [unclear] a factory job basically. And so I I I joined up again and you know I never felt untowards, particularly sad about it or particularly aggrieved. Life was life and I carried on and it gradually got better and better and better if you know what I mean. I think initially of course I should have mentioned it. When I was born we were a typical working class family in Alton. We lived in a terraced row of cottages, row of houses with no water and an outside toilet. The water was from a standpipe outside. And we did have a loo in the garden with flush water. But that, that I think before I left school, before I started school I think we got water in the house but, and we got gas in the house but not upstairs. Only downstairs. Went to bed with a candle still. And and it goes under. Because you know you couldn’t go out in the middle of the night. You had — luckily my mother went to sales and she bought a commode. She had, and very few people had commodes in those days but she’d been to an auction sale and bought a commode. Now, this all changed of course in 1939, April because my father died then so my mother was left a widow with three kids. Well, not kids. Three children. Now, one of them was married. That’s your grandfather of course. And Bill was called up in the, he was in the Terriers. He was called up on his twentieth birthday to the Hampshire Regiment. And me. And I started flying on ops. So she didn’t have a good war did she?
IL: Not at all.
CC: I didn’t realise at the time just how bad it was for her but you imagine every day expecting a telegram as I, as I envisaged happening when I was having this sort of flashback or whatever you call it.
Other: I’ve often thought that. I’ve often thought it’s not like nowadays. They couldn’t send a text and say, “Hi mum. I’m fine.”
IL: Absolutely.
Other: You know. It was, I must admit as a mother myself I think there must — your three boys. Your three boys have gone.
IL: Yeah.
Other: You would think law of statistics you’re going to think I’m going to lose at least one of them.
IL: And your, but your brother survived.
CC: One of them got badly wounded but yes. The oldest brother he, he was an engineer and a flight, not a flight, a Royal Engineer. He went to Burma and my brother. Other. He went to Burma. Bill. But he got badly wounded in a [unclear] machine gun in his shoulder. But the silly bugger wouldn’t claim the pension. You know. I don’t know. I said, ‘Don’t tell them you can manage. Tell them you can’t manage’. But he wouldn’t. He wouldn’t claim a pension. He should have done. But there you are. We’re all built differently aren’t we?
IL: Absolutely. Absolutely. I’m just going to stop this now and I’m going to have a think about is there anything —


Ian Locker, “Interview with Cecil Harry Chandler,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 23, 2024,

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