Interview with Eddie Edmunds

Title

Interview with Eddie Edmunds

Description

Eddie Edmunds was born in Walthamstow and was educated at a grammar school, then joined an oil company. He eventually moved to the Electric Supply Company and became an accountant. Eddie had always wanted to fly so he initially joined the reserve and then the Royal Air Force as an air gunner for about a year. He then went to Canada to train as a pilot and was eventually posted to 106 Squadron under Guy Gibson, whom he quoted as being ‘a fantastic pilot, disciplined and looked after people’. Eddie carried out 30 operations.
He recalled an incident when they had been low on petrol and had to descend in a storm, the starboard engine on fire. The navigator bailed out, was caught up but the engineer released him with a knife and both came down safely.
In April 1943 his aircraft was attacked over Duisburg in the moonlight - he could see everything but landed safely. Eddie had done about 800 hours on Wellingtons but his preferred aircraft was the Lancaster. Eddie then got posted as an instructor and flew Oxfords and Mosquitos. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2017-09-13

Contributor

Sue Smith
Julie Williams

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

00:47:57 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AEdmundsAE170913, PEdmundsAE1702

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

EE: What’s this for?
RP: This interview is being conducted on behalf of the International Bomber Command Centre. The interviewer is Rod Pickles. The interviewee is Albert Ernest Edmunds. The interview is taking place at Albert Ernest Edmunds home in Bournemouth, Dorset on the 13th of September 2017. Doreen [unclear] is also present. Good morning, sir. I think we’ve established that you’d like to be known as Eddie so I’ll call you Eddie during the interview.
EE: Yes.
RP: If that is ok with you.
EE: Thank you.
RP: I think the best place to start is if you could tell us where you were born and your childhood and what led you to joining the RAF.
EE: I was born in Walthamstow which is now full of wogs but never mind [laughs] I was born in Walthamstow. I was educated with the Sir George Monoux Grammar School.
RP: Oh right.
EE: And when I left there at about seventeen or eighteen I joined an oil company in Aldwych, London. Just trying to think of the company. But anyway strangely enough the manager there was also educated by the people of my school.
RP: Oh right.
EE: But in Devon. So, we got on well. Then my mother, who lost — my father was killed in the ‘14/18 war. My mother got, was very good, she talked about superannuation which didn’t mean a thing to me. It was getting a, getting a [pause] when you leave work.
RP: A pension.
EE: A pension.
RP: Pension. Yeah.
EE: And she knew somebody in the electric supply company. London electricity supply. COLESCO County of London Electrics Supply Company which I joined and ultimately went off to war for four or five years and remained with them ‘til I retired. And her words were very good because I’ve got a pension. Not all that good but it’s good enough just to keep me going.
RP: Oh yes.
EE: And so that’s that part of it. So, I remained with the electric supply company working my way up. Studying at night school quite a bit. And became the sub area accountant for Essex and North Met which was, which I retired on. So that was my working life.
RP: Right. So what, when war was approaching then what made you think about the RAF?
EE: When I?
RP: When war was approaching what made you think about joining the RAF?
EE: I was always, always wanted to fly. And my next, had the war not occurred I would have joined up in the [pause] what was it? The Reserve.
RP: The Reserve. Yeah.
EE: Yeah.
RP: Yeah.
EE: Something like that.
RP: Yeah.
EE: But war, war took over and I obtained what I wanted to. I — flying was natural to me. I mean I soloed in four and a half hours.
RP: That’s very good.
EE: In the RAF.
RP: So where did you actually sign on? Where did you, where did you actually join the RAF? In Walthamstow? Where did you sign?
EE: No. I was called up.
RP: Oh right.
EE: Yes. I was waiting to join. I was called up and joined. I don’t know where I ended up. Blackpool I suppose.
RP: Yeah. So you started. I think you said you started as an air gunner for a while. Yes?
EE: I started as an ordinary aircraftsman. Wireless operator/air gunner. Because I did want to fly and that was it. As I couldn’t become a pilot at that time I wanted to be airborne. It was in me that I just wanted to fly.
RP: Yeah. So, can you remember your first operation as an air gunner then? Your first flight.
EE: No. I don’t because Stirlings were all electrical and so I was in the, in the globe at the top, you know. Cold. And don’t forget in those early days there was nothing like radar and all that. You just couldn’t find the bloody target. Or the pilot couldn’t. Not me. So I was just an air gunner. We were never attacked as such so I didn’t have much to say about being a wireless operator.
RP: Yeah.
EE: Air gunner.
RP: So how long were you an air gunner for before you went to pilot training then?
EE: I’d been —
Other: What do you want darling?
RP: Pause.
[recording paused]
RP: Ok, Eddie then, so you’re about a year as an air gunner and you go for pilot training which is obviously an ambition achieved for you.
EE: Yes.
RP: And you spent some time in Canada I believe.
EE: Service.
RP: Yeah.
EE: We went over there. Service.
RP: Yeah.
EE: To get to the elementary thing. Flying. Service training in Canada. Which was — which I enjoyed.
RP: What aircraft did you fly out there?
EE: Pardon?
RP: What aircraft were you flying in Canada then? What did they use?
EE: A twin. Twin engine.
RP: Was it, you got a Hudson?
EE: Must have been there.
RP: Hudson. Ventura. Wellington. Or an Oxford. You were on an Oxford.
EE: Oxford.
RP: Oxford. Yeah.
EE: Oxford.
RP: Yeah. I remember them.
EE: Yeah.
RP: They, so I mean that was a small aircraft so it was easier to fly I guess. Get used to flying.
EE: Yes. Got used to twin engines. For better or for worse I don’t know.
RP: Yeah.
EE: I just loved it.
RP: But the flight back from Canada to England, well to Scotland must have been interesting then.
EE: Well, I [pause] they were paying American pilots as captain. Which shook me rigid because I was RAF trained and the first, first time I met him he didn’t do any of the things we did. He just took off [laughs] And I was biting my fingers.
RP: Yeah.
EE: I thought he hasn’t checked this. He hasn’t checked. But he was very good. And so we flew. I was asked whether I’d like to be returned to England by boat or fly back. So I said I’ll fly back.
RP: So, what aircraft was that?
EE: Eh?
RP: What aircraft did you fly back in?
EE: Sorry. My mind’s —
RP: No. It’s ok.
[pause]
EE: Ventura.
RP: Ok. Was that an easy aircraft to fly? The Ventura.
EE: What?
RP: Was it an easy aircraft to fly?
EE: No. No. I I got to a point I could fly any aircraft.
RP: So it didn’t matter really. You just took to it.
RP: No. No. Yeah.
RP: Yeah. So you come back eventually.
RP: To Scotland.
RP: To Scotland. And then obviously down to —
RP: Bournemouth.
RP: Bournemouth. And you actually were here during your RAF career then. In Bournemouth.
RP: Sorry?
RP: You were actually in Bournemouth during your RAF career. You were actually here in Bournemouth.
RP: They posted me to Bournemouth because they were holding all, all aircrew. And my mother lived in Bournemouth so I thought good. I was in Bournemouth for about three days. And then I went off to service training.
RP: So, you joined. You were doing a lot of training between your return. So, when did you first fly a Lancaster? Can you remember that? Your first Lancaster flight.
EE: It’ll be in —
RP: Where were you when you first picked up a Lancaster?
[pause]
EE: There we are.
[pause – pages turning]
EE: There’s his signature. Oh, Manchester. There we are. December the 7th ’42.
RP: Oh right. So, were you on Lancasters from that point to the end of the war?
EE: They, they put me on Manchesters.
RP: Yeah.
EE: First.
RP: And then to Lancasters.
EE: And then on the 7th I started on Lancasters.
RP: So, then you were posted to 106 Squadron and —
EE: Ultimately.
RP: And that was under Guy Gibson. Yes?
EE: Yeah.
RP: So, there’s been many stories about Guy Gibson. But what can you tell us about him as the squadron commander?
EE: Who?
RP: Guy Gibson. What can you tell us about him?
EE: Well, I thought, in my lack of knowledge about the RAF as such because he was, to me he was, he was RAF. I was just a new boy. I liked him because he was discipline. You see, he said for instance every morning he didn’t want the aircrew to join in the, in the squadron before 10 o’clock. That sort of thing. He looked, he looked after people but woe betide you if you were late [laughs] That sort of discipline. Which I liked.
RP: And of course he was famous, famously a very, one of the best pilots of Bomber Command.
EE: Well, that’s another thing. I mean I used to come back from an operation full of sweat and what would you and he used to take his helmet off and his hair was all posh you know. He —
RP: He was very calm.
EE: He obviously was a fantastic pilot and he, you see he’d done a lot of ops before he was a night fighter. All sorts. And he used to give us a hint. His experience he’d pass on. For instance that when we were leaving a raid you flew for about a minute and then dived left or right to [pause] for about two or three thousand feet and that. Because his experience of night fighting was that he’d have somebody in the sights and they’d disappear.
RP: Because they’d gone up.
EE: That sort of thing.
RP: Yeah.
EE: So it was probably —
RP: Yeah. Because it confuses the opposition.
EE: So that’s what admired me because he was an experienced bloke but he passed it all on.
RP: Yeah.
EE: Yeah.
RP: So, how many sorties did you do with 106? How many sorties? Can you remember?
EE: How many?
RP: Operations did you fly?
EE: Thirty.
RP: You did the thirty which was the normal amount.
EE: Yeah.
RP: And you got through them. Can you remember any particular raids that you did that sort of stand out in your memory?
EE: Well, no. My, my, pretty awkward, and my engineer was saying, ‘We’re getting low on fuel.’ And I did the worst thing possible. I came down in a storm to see if I could pinpoint anything at all [coughs] After about half an hour — no, a quarter of an hour my engineer said, ‘We ought to go back east. We’re — ’
RP: Right.
EE: Because we were running short of fuel. So I said ok. But that moment I thought I’d hit, I thought I’d hit power lines.
RP: Oh dear.
EE: Because there was the most [coughs] most amazing flash. And when I got going after the flash I could see flames on my right. On my — so I said to the engineer, ‘Feather the starboard engine.’ He said, ‘There isn’t a bloody starboard.’ It had gone. Right completely. What I’d hit I don’t know. But —
RP: You were that low were you?
EE: And I was still flying [laughs]
RP: Oh right.
EE: So I climbed to three thousand feet on three engines and the missing engine and got the crew to abandon. So the two gunners went, the wireless operator went [pause] somebody else went. Which left me and the engineer and the navigator.
RP: Right.
EE: So, the navigator said, ‘I’ll bale out now.’ [coughs] And he disappeared down the steps to go forward.
RP: Yeah.
EE: And I was thinking, well the engineer will go and I’ll have to just try and land somewhere. The next minute the engine, the engineer, who always carried a bloody great knife in his flying boots appeared with a knife and I thought he’s gone mad [laughs] disappeared down the hatchway.
RP: Right.
EE: And came back with the navigator. The navigator trying to get out where it was damaged.
RP: Oh, he was caught. His —
EE: Caught. So he had to cut.
RP: Oh right.
EE: So that left three of us. And at three thousand feet I didn’t know where we were. All I knew there must be some high ground. So we came down about a hundred feet a minute. And in the meantime, in the meantime I was yelling out for aid and the, I got down under the cloud and there was Burn lit up. Which I landed.
RP: So, you think you lost the engine somewhere over France. Switzerland.
EE: Yeah. The engine had gone.
RP: So you could have hit a hill or something. Or the top of a hill.
EE: Well, the engineers I talked to when I got back they, they said they had to go miles to find the reduction gear.
RP: What?
EE: They found the engine. Reduction gear. But the thing is you see, Gibson. Gibson sent his car to pick us up.
RP: Really. That was good because obviously Switzerland’s neutral isn’t it?
EE: Pardon?
RP: So how did you get out of Switzerland then?
EE: No. I was in, I was in Yorkshire.
RP: Oh. I thought when you said Burn I thought you meant Berne in Switzerland.
EE: Yeah.
RP: Oh Burn in Yorkshire. Oh sorry. Right. Got you.
EE: Rather then get somebody to fly me back. And that’s, that’s what I admire about Gibson. He looked after us.
RP: Well, yeah he looked after you. Oh I see. So when you talked about Burn I thought you meant you were flying out of Germany and into, into France. So you’d crashed. You landed in Yorkshire safely. So, is this where you won the DFC?
EE: I don’t know.
RP: Is that?
EE: Don’t see that was anything.
RP: So, what, what were you awarded the DFC for? Because that was pretty good flying wasn’t it? Let’s just pause.
[recording paused]
EE: I was attacked by enemy aircraft twice and each time my two gunners who were eighteen years old just saw them. Told me to weave. And that was our discipline you see. When they said weave I didn’t say, ‘Why?’ or ‘What?’
RP: You just went. Yeah.
EE: I wove. And each time it was lucky. They, the enemy aircraft missed.
RP: Because that, that was part of the team work. That. You said you had a good crew.
EE: Oh yeah. Very good. But I got that from the illustration of [pause]
RP: Gibson. Guy Gibson had told you to —
EE: Yeah. His type of [pause] I used on my crew because lots of crew the few times I flew with another crew they were all joking and that whereas my crew were quiet.
RP: They, they just got on with the job.
EE: Yeah.
RP: Yeah. But you, I mean looking at this.
EE: And the same with the engineer. Because each time we were attacked the engineer, the enemy aircraft set fire to an engine and within five seconds my engineer had damped it down. Stopped it.
RP: And then.
EE: And the other crew.
RP: Just got on with it. Yeah.
EE: Yeah.
RP: Now, I’ve got an interesting entry here. You’d been to Spezia and you were short of fuel on return and you landed at Exeter. Do you remember that one?
EE: Oh yeah.
RP: Why? That was Italy wasn’t it?
EE: Italy. Yeah.
RP: That’s a long trip that?
EE: Took a group captain with me.
RP: Yeah. Group Captain Odbert.
EE: Odbert. Yeah.
RP: What was he? He was just a guest was he?
EE: Eh?
RP: Was he just flying for observation?
EE: He was, I don’t know why. He adopted me. And we got on very well and he was killed. Now, my rear gunner who was a little Irish chap.
RP: McCready.
EE: Yeah. McCready.
RP: Sound Irish. Yeah. Sergeant McCready. I’ve got him here. Yeah.
EE: McCready. Anyway, he, when he finished he went somewhere and he and Odbert and a lot of other high, high class RAF people were in a Wellington being demonstrated what weaving was.
RP: Right.
EE: And the bloody wing came off.
RP: Oh, my goodness.
EE: So, Odbert was killed, my rear gunner was killed. Yeah.
RP: But Wellingtons were a fairly strong aircraft wasn’t it?
EE: So somebody —
RP: Too much strain. Yeah. Oh dear.
EE: And they had four or five top, top men there.
RP: Yeah. But no, I mean that’s some of the things you’ve mentioned in here that are just amazing, aren’t they? The Wellington flying and —
EE: But strangely enough I had more trouble on the years I was training people. I had some really dicey turns there including a mid-air. Mid-air collision. Including, if you can imagine it we were training [coughs] pilots and air crew on to Wellingtons too. That was the score.
RP: Yeah.
EE: The one I had was quite good. We took off one night. Luckily it was clear as a bell. And we got to six hundred feet and I said, ‘It’s about time we took the coals off,’ to him, and he handed me the two throttles. And he said [laughs] and he locked it on and instead of unlocking it and of course I had duplicate things but they were fed by —
RP: Oh right.
EE: So I was, so I thought what do I do now? So I, this is on a Wellington, all the engines were going full blast. Couldn’t stop them. So I did a circuit and I said, a long one, luckily it was a lovely night. I could see. And came back on the, towards the aerodrome and I said to him, ‘When it comes switch off the engine.’
RP: Yeah. So, glide in.
EE: Glide down. And what happened? One engine cut and the starboard didn’t. It was so hot. So, I had to go all [laughs] all the way around again.
RP: Oh no.
EE: And I looked at the engine on my starboard side and it was red hot. You could see it. I could see it. I thought any minute now that’s going to blow. So I said the thing I hadn’t remembered. I said, ‘When you cut the engines next time would you pull the, the choke.’ And luckily it it worked.
RP: Right.
EE: So I was then about three hundred feet. And this is the RAF training because although there is a war on you had to have elementary flying. They went through the lot. And I remembered about emergency landing to keep it in sight. Not to turn around and lose it. So you side slip. So there I was in this aircraft side slipping.
RP: And you landed ok.
EE: Yeah.
RP: Yeah.
EE: Got down to about three hundred feet and I judged our distance it was from the runway and we landed. The thing is we couldn’t stop very well. But that’s one thing.
RP: That’s amazing.
EE: And what else was —
RP: You’ve got.
EE: Oh. Had a mid-air collision.
RP: Yeah. Who was that with? You had a mid-air collision?
EE: Yeah. We were designated to go air firing north in North Wales. And I went. I took the crew. A new crew.
RP: This is a Lancaster. Yeah.
EE: No. This is on a Wellington.
RP: Oh. This is a Wellington. Yeah. Fine. Ok.
EE: Still training.
RP: Yeah. Yeah.
EE: And I could see very stormy weather ahead and I said to them, ‘I’ll take over.’ Luckily I did because out of the clouds came a small aircraft. Hit my wing.
RP: Right.
EE: And came off and they, that was one of the instructors. And he had to have —
RP: Yeah.
EE: I’ve got it all there.
RP: Yes.
EE: And killed him. Anyway, they sent somebody from Air Ministry. An old, a really old chap. Wizened. Nice bloke. And he asked all the questions. And I was getting a bit perturbed because it looked as though he was saying it was my fault.
RP: Trying to blame you but you were in the right place. Yeah.
EE: And I really was worried. I thought well it wasn’t my fault. And then I mentioned to him about flying. I said, ‘I was only flying on the air, on the track that these, the people gave me.’ So, he, he left me there. Never saw him anymore.
RP: So, there was no, nothing.
EE: Obviously he was going to blame them for the fact that I was on the track.
RP: Yeah. Yeah. I was trying to find but that, that’s, I mean that shows one example was a Wellington lose a wing and crashing but there you’re hit but the Wellington stays flying so it shows you it was a fairly robust aeroplane.
EE: Oh yeah.
RP: Because that was another Barnes Wallis invention, wasn’t it?
EE: I did about eight hundred hours on Wellingtons.
RP: Yeah.
EE: And I got, got to like them.
RP: Which was your favourite aircraft?
EE: Oh, a Lanc.
RP: You still, you still like that. I’ve got one here if I could ask you about which sounds quite interesting. This was April the 9th 1943. You were at Duisburg and you were attacked by a Junkers 88 over the target.
EE: Yeah.
RP: And the port, the port outer engine was hit and on fire. Enemy aircraft broke off after two attacks and was seen losing height. Were your engines hit? Do you remember that? When you were coming back from Duisburg. You were attacked by a Junkers and the port outer was hit.
EE: Yeah. That’s [coughs] what date was that?
RP: This is the 9th of April 1943.
EE: April. That’s right.
RP: Are you ok?
EE: Yeah. That was, strangely enough that attack was made with the, with the moonlight which is unusual.
RP: Yeah.
EE: And I got attacked. After the panic died down and I got, the navigator recovered himself and gave me a track home. And it was moonlight and I couldn’t get more than sixteen thousand feet on three engines. And I could see everything. I could see the cows in the field.
RP: It all looked very nice.
EE: And I thought, I thought I will never make it. And nobody interfered and I just flew back.
RP: That’s amazing. Yeah.
EE: From Duisburg. All that time. All that way.
RP: And that was to Syerston. Yeah.
EE: And I thought —
RP: Yeah. Yeah.
EE: Where the? I warned the crew of course. I was sure that enemy fighter aircraft would pick —
RP: Yeah.
EE: Pick me off.
RP: But you were no trouble at all.
EE: No trouble.
RP: And you landed ok.
EE: It was a lovely moonlight night and I could see for miles.
RP: Yeah. That’s amazing. So, when you, why was there a posting from Lancasters to Wellington? Did you volunteer or did they just post you?
EE: No.
RP: Or were you told you had to go?
EE: I volunteered. My crew didn’t want to do another.
RP: But you’d done the thirty.
EE: Yeah.
RP: Yeah.
EE: So, I just let them go and I got posted as a, to the instructor’s school.
RP: Yeah. That’s flying the Oxford. Yeah.
EE: Yeah.
RP: Yeah.
EE: And then I spent quite a year or so.
RP: So, you became an instructor.
EE: An instructor.
RP: Well, they obviously recognised your qualities with bringing all these aeroplanes back.
EE: They said I got [pause] that I was —
RP: That was, that was Castle Combe. Yeah.
EE: Bomb aimer’s instructor.
RP: That was Castle Combe you would have been at. And then Lichfield. Yeah. So, you’re on the Wellingtons and you’ve done a few and then looking at this you moved to Mosquitoes. Did you volunteer for the Mosquito?
EE: Oh yes. Oh [coughs] that was my end. That was really good. I loved the Mosquito.
RP: Because you — that was a very fast aeroplane wasn’t it?
EE: Yeah.
RP: Yeah.
EE: You see, also Mosquito, I don’t think I recorded it but twice when it was foggy [pause] when it was foggy they used to line us up in the fog on the three points from wheel and the two wheels and I had to take off in fog.
RP: Oh right.
EE: Just on instruments. And of course when you got to about eight hundred feet the fog had disappeared. But —
RP: And looking at this you, you bombed Berlin a few times.
EE: Yeah.
RP: So, how long would it take you to fly to Berlin then?
EE: About two hours.
RP: Because that’s, that’s moving fairly quickly.
EE: The time. The time’s there.
RP: That’s down, yeah Downham Market. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
EE: Time.
RP: Oh right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You’ve got it. Yeah. Night fog. Two hours. That is an amazing statistic. And Flight Lieutenant Lamb. Was he always your, always your second pilot for most of the —
EE: He was, he was the navigator.
RP: He was the navigator.
EE: Navigator bomb aimer. Yeah.
RP: Yeah. Yeah. Because you have two people in it. Yes. But I mean did you — obviously you’re, you’re bombing from a certain height. Did you do much low flying in the Mosquito?
EE: No.
RP: No. Because I interviewed a navigator on a Mosquito can remember flying through Amsterdam very low and seeing the faces of the Germans shooting him. Shooting at him. Because it was a low reccy.
EE: Yeah.
RP: Yeah. But you were always bombing from a certain height.
EE: Yeah. We —
RP: And I guess fighters didn’t bother you because of your speed. Yeah?
EE: Well, we were always on the alert naturally and what they did was find some spare petrol tanks and —
Other: Rod, would you like another coffee?
RP: I’ll be fine thanks.
Other: You would. Yes. Are you alright, darling? Right. Did you say yes, Rod?
RP: Yes.
[recording paused]
RP: But looking at this, on June the 2nd you flew in a Lancaster in 1945. Did you — was that a trip just to celebrate or something?
EE: No. Where?
RP: Was that? Because obviously the war had ended.
EE: Does it say where?
RP: A Cook’s Tour. What’s a Cook Tour?
EE: Oh yeah.
RP: What’s a Cook’s? Sounds interesting.
EE: We called it Cook’s Tour because after the war we used to volunteer to take an aircraft full of —
RP: Yes. A lot of passengers then.
EE: Ground crew.
RP: Yeah. Yeah.
EE: Just to see.
RP: That was just a flight experience thing was it?
EE: What?
RP: A flight experience for the ground crew.
EE: Just —
RP: Yeah. Yeah.
EE: Just to see where the bombing took place.
RP: Yeah. Well looking at this it was a Cook’s Tour because it’s Gravesend. Boulogne, St Omer, Douai, St Vith, Kaiserslautern, Karlsruhe, Mannheim, Worms, Darmstadt — good grief.
EE: Yeah.
RP: And you end up at Dunkirk. And then you return to Remagen. You flew over. That’s amazing. So a Cook’s Tour was just taking people around.
EE: Yeah.
RP: So, you did a few of them here but then you took them in the Mosquito. And Flying Officer Cooke. Yeah. Yes. I can see AC Jones, AC Woods there. So this getting very close to, well there’s another Cook’s Tour. Different people. So, we’re getting towards the end here but you’re still, you’re still flying in the Lancaster aren’t you towards the end there? Where, where did you spend your last months then? You were at Snaith, Full Sutton, Gransden Lodge Warboys.
EE: I spent them on in 8 Group. Pathfinder group.
RP: Yeah. Lancaster.
EE: They were Mosquitoes.
RP: That’s lovely. So, if I could just take us — so at the end then. That’s 1945. You were taken up in a Mitchell by a flight.
EE: Oh yeah.
RP: Yeah. That was your last as a passenger. Yeah.
EE: He dropped us off in Belgium.
RP: Yeah.
EE: After the war.
RP: Yeah.
EE: But they didn’t make any arrangements.
RP: Oh right.
EE: So I had to find a bloke I knew who was flying back to England. It was a right mess up after the war.
RP: Yeah. Because you flew it to, you flew it to Brussels and somebody flew you back. Yeah. Your last flight then was October the 3rd 1945 —
EE: Probably. Yeah.
RP: In the RAF. And then you, but you still, you’ve still got a record here that you’re still —
EE: Yeah.
RP: Civil flying. Yeah.
EE: Yeah. In Bournemouth.
RP: Yeah.
EE: In the Flying Club.
RP: So that was flying the Tiger Moth. That was a different type of aeroplane.
EE: Anything. Yeah.
RP: Yeah. Compared to a Lancaster a Tiger Moth must have been a holiday.
EE: It provided a good variety.
RP: Oh, there’s a lot of —
EE: Yeah.
RP: But you’re still, out of all the aeroplanes we’ve got there the Wellington, the Martinet, the Ventura, the Hudson — the Lancaster is still your favourite you think. But I think we can, I mean looking at the citation for the DFC I think I can understand why you got it because you’ve had a number of incidents and brought every aircraft back and —
EE: Yeah.
RP: Never lost a member of crew, had you?
EE: No.
RP: And you did thirty sorties which is a remarkable statistic and I think I can understand why. Why you got it. But looking back then if we could Eddie. You had a very amazing time there. Would you do it all again?
EE: Oh yeah. I mean, I wouldn’t now [laughs]
RP: Not now. But I mean if you had your life again.
EE: Oh yeah.
RP: You’d do the same.
EE: Yeah.
RP: You’d do the same thing.
EE: Because flying to me was everything.
RP: Yeah.
EE: I don’t know why.
RP: Yeah. Can you remember the last time you flew an aeroplane then? How long ago was that? When you were last airborne.
EE: Oh, that would be —
RP: Is it part of this logbook is it?
EE: After the war.
RP: Yeah. Yeah. But you didn’t fly much after that then. You —
EE: No.
RP: You were just a passenger.
EE: We couldn’t afford it.
RP: No. No. There is that. So, you were just a passenger. So that would be —oh you’ve got 1986. You’ve got it. In a Grumman.
EE: Yeah.
RP: You were a part of the thing. The last one where you flew would be October the 12th ‘47 then. Local flying. But, but this, this logbook is — there are so many, so many incidents here. That I think I can understand why you were — and your assessments are really good aren’t they? I think you’ve been ,you were always assessed quite well weren’t you? And you, I think what has come out of this is that you just loved to fly.
EE: What amazed me was that after ops when I was instructing after being passed as an instructor me and many others spent a year at least training.
RP: Yeah.
EE: But we never got an AFM or anything like that.
RP: No. No. Despite — because that is hard work isn’t it? You’re trying to impart your knowledge but did you, I’m guessing you told them to make sure they weave from side to side occasionally did you? Passed on the Gibson, the Gibson method. So, Guy Gibson, I think obviously you have great respect for him sadly died before the end of the war. What was the view in the RAF of why he crashed? Do you know?
EE: Know what?
RP: Because Gibson crashed in a Mosquito didn’t he? What was the view of the RAF then?
EE: I don’t know.
RP: Yeah.
EE: I mean, I learned it and I was very sad because I think with all he did and he did a lot rightly or wrongly that was his thing but I didn’t think. I didn’t think they’d let him go on fighting.
RP: No. They wanted him as a PR man didn’t they? I mean the, what always surprised me was that he never, he was not promoted to group captain. Which given all he’d done, as you say, all he’d done I was quite surprised that he was never promoted. But I must, I’ll just pick one more out of here if I could. Let me have a look. Because early on in your training —
EE: I think, I think in a way he was like myself. That he’d do anything to keep flying.
RP: Well, yes I think that. We don’t know. He might have turned promotion down mightn’t he? He might have turned it down. Ok. Let’s have a look at this then. So [pause] yes, you, you mentioned the Ventura flight back.
EE: One of my worst experiences in flying, the only time I was frightened was when after when I was instructing on — the group captain had a [pause] I’ve forgotten the name.
RP: Odbert. No.
EE: No. No. The group captain of where I was stationed.
RP: Oh right.
EE: Had his own aircraft.
RP: Oh right.
EE: And he never flew it but the education chap and I got on very well and he had a, he had a son being educated somewhere in Birmingham. And occasionally he’d ask the CO could we borrow a little aircraft.
RP: Yeah. Do you want to have a look?
[pause]
EE: Martinet. A Martinet.
RP: Martinet. Oh right. Right.
EE: Which I loved because I used to use it occasionally.
RP: This was a small aircraft. Yeah.
EE: That’s, it wasn’t mine. It was the group captain’s. But whatever. Anyway, I used to fly him to Birmingham. Land at Birmingham. I’d go to the mess. He’d go and see his son for two or three hours. We’d fly it back. Piece of cake. One, one day when he was wanting to see his son terrible weather. So, I said, ‘That’s alright.’ Bighead.
RP: Yes.
EE: ‘I’ll fly you.’ So, we flew to Birmingham. When we got to Birmingham it was you name it was bad. And I landed. So, he went to see his son. I went to the mess. Came back. And the chap, this just shows how you can go wrong, the chap in charge of the aerodrome said, ‘You can’t fly in this weather.’ Bighead says, ‘Yes, I can.’ And we had quite a little do. And in the end I said, ‘Well, I’m Flight Lieutenant Edmunds. I’m in charge of this and I insist on flying it.’ So, he more or less shrugged. Rightly or wrongly. So, this chap, a friend of mine got in the aircraft. It was pouring with rain. You couldn’t see to the wall.
RP: Really.
EE: Bighead. Fly in anything. So, I flew. Took off. Got to six hundred feet and the engine stopped. It literally stopped.
RP: Oh right.
EE: And I didn’t know what to do because the only control I had was an on and off switch with the petrol. So, I put the nose down. Couldn’t, couldn’t see as far as Doreen. And I thought I hope I’m flying somewhere. It’s too late. And suddenly the engine started again so we flew home. But in, to have that stop because I was insisting I was right and I wasn’t.
RP: And you learned from that then.
EE: Yeah.
RP: I’ve just looked up your flight back from Canada. It was nearly a twenty hour flight wasn’t it? Amazing.
EE: Oh yeah.
RP: Deuville, Gander, Blue West One, Blue West One Reykjavik, Reykjavik, Prestwick.
EE: That was, that was an interesting.
RP: Oh dear. Twenty hours. That’s a long flight isn’t it?
EE: Yeah, but —
RP: And then you landed in Prestwick. Gosh.
EE: But —
RP: I mean, that’s — you could have come back by boat you know.
EE: Eh?
RP: You could have come back by boat.
EE: Yeah. Twenty days.
RP: Twenty hours instead of twenty days. But yeah, I mean this is a fascinating document Eddie and I think it’s, it’s a treasure trove really. Some amazing [pause] Did you ever meet up with your crew after the war? Did you ever meet up with your crew after the war?
EE: No.
RP: You never saw them again.
EE: No.
RP: Oh, that’s a shame. That is a shame. But I mean you’ve, some of the descriptions here are amazing. But all I can say is it’s been really fascinating to talk to you.
EE: Good.
RP: I’m so pleased to have been able to do this interview. It’s amazing. And I think we could probably talk about it for the rest of the day but I realise you need to rest.
EE: Yeah.
RP: So, my thanks to you and thank you to Doreen for having me here. And we’ll say, stop there and say thank you.
EE: Good.

Collection

Citation

Rod Pickles, “Interview with Eddie Edmunds,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 1, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/10790.

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