Interview with Megan Edwards


Interview with Megan Edwards


Megan Edwards talks about her husband, Arthur Edwards, who served in the RAF with 102 Squadron. Tells of how they met at school and always kept in touch through the war, until they married on October 7th, 1944. She remembers working at the Bristol telephone exchange on D-Day. Arthur took on various jobs before volunteering for the RAF in 1941. He initially went to America to train as a fighter pilot, but then was moved on to bombers. He was stationed at RAF Pocklington on 102 Squadron, with which he flew thirty-nine operations. Remembers when Arthur and his crew had to abort what was to be their last operation and land at RAF Manston because of a widespread oil leak. From 25 September to 7 October, Arthur and his crew dropped fuel canisters over Brussels to supply the British army with petrol. Tells of when a bee got stuck in the instrument panel, jamming it. Towards the end of the war, from February 1945 to August 1946, Arthur was posted to Transport Command, flying Dakotas to the Middle East and the Far East, in preparation for Operation Tiger. Mentions him being awarded the DFC by post and the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the Air. Arthur left the RAF in 1946, went back to civilian life for ten years and then joined the Guinea police air wing.




Temporal Coverage




00:38:31 audio recording


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RP: This interview is being conducted on behalf of the International Bomber Command Centre. The interviewer is Rod Pickles, the interviewee is Megan Edwards. The interview is taking place in Mrs Edwards home in Weymouth, Dorset on the 30th of October 2017. Also present is Caroline Print. Good afternoon Megan and thank you for inviting me to your home. Could you tell us for starters, you’re going to give us the history of your husband and what we would like to know is when and where you met, and what persuaded him to join the RAF, if you know that. So, when did you meet?
ME: We met in a geography lesson in [unclear], our local school, the teacher was doing her best to give us a geography lesson but at the back of the class was a path leading from a meadow where a farmer used to drive his cows every afternoon back to the [unclear] to be milked and this one particular afternoon they were very noisy cows and they were just all the time they brought to the path and poor Mary Porter, Ms Pot as we used to call her, she nearly had to give in because the cows out bellowed her and we were, well, we were all in hysterics, the children and there was suddenly this boy in front of me just [unclear] off and turned around and smiled at me and that was it and he’d been in my life ever since. We were at sunny school together, we were at Cayton’s Camps together, we were at [unclear] together, we churched together cause he was originally in the choir, then he blew the organ, then he rang the church bell and then he used to come and sit behind me and I had a pretty gold bracelet with a heart-shaped lock on it and it acted like a mirror so when he sat behind me I could pick up my bracelet so I could sit and watch Arthur Edwards all through the service, which was quite something when you are only, what, ten or eleven, something like that and then when he needed to earn some money for his pocket, he became my father’s Friday boy cause my dad was the local baker, so he was always around and he was always around to pick up the pieces and whatever I wanted to do if it was a date with another chap, he’d take me along, then leave and then pick me up afterwards but he was always there.
RP: Where was this?
ME: This was in the Forest of Dean and then his mom had a baby girl when she was just about forty and prior to that her husband had broken his leg in the mine and no money come in, no parachute leave because they had a piano which was counted as [unclear] so Arthur had to leave, the, three months I think it was after his sister was born, he didn’t even have time to take his full certificate, he had to go and earn his own living, and he went to London where he was in a hostel and worked for the Fifteen Shilling Tailors for a short while, didn’t like it particularly, sawing on buttons wasn’t his metier at all so he applied to join Sainsbury’s and he trained in the Sainsbury’s setup, learning to pat butter, learning to slice meat, pack your [unclear] proper packets with the flats all down, quite an intensive course in those days and then he got posted down to Brighton when the Germans started their bombing raids on the south coast. By this time I think his mother was [unclear], maybe things that picked up at home I don’t know but suddenly Arthur was back home, determined I think then to volunteer for the RAF, I mean he would’ve been what then, seventeen, coming eighteen? And he used his skills if you can call them that learned at Sainsbury’s and he went into one, a large local shop [unclear] time until he could volunteer, I think maybe he’d been spurred on by another local lad, who in the thirties was in the RAF, and at that time there were two quite well known songs, one was [unclear] Airman, and the other one was Amy, wonderful Amy, Amy Johnson, I think, maybe that had something to do with it, I don’t know, because when I was growing up, I wanted to be a pilot, but I don’t think I would have suit it cause I was always air sick when I flew anyway so that wouldn’t have helped. Anyway, he volunteered on his eighteenth birthday with a lad that sat by him in school and they both went the same day and the other went to the instructor eventually and Arthur obviously went to aircrew and he trained in, I think, Turner Field in America originally and I think it was going to be fighter pilot and then he had an attack of appendicitis which had dopped him all through his teenage years but then the thing to do was to scatter it with glucose or something and once the pain had gone away, that was the end of that, well at Turner Field this one day he had this awful pain and decided he had to go sick and so they would take him away in a hospital and do an operation and as the ambulance doors were closing, the pain just went but he thought, I’ve had enough of this, I’ve it scattered enough times, I’m just gonna let them do the job, which he did but of course that put him back on his course so but the course he was originally on had finished by the time he got out of hospital and convalesced so he was then taken up to [unclear] in Canada and then out to [static interference noise] [unclear] near Neepawa and that is where he got his in Neepawa and then came back to Harrogate where they were all sorted, they were, by the time he got back to Harrogate, the need for fighters had diminished and it was bombers that were needed.
RP: What year was this?
ME: Uhm, he’d volunteered in ’41, by the way nothing to do with him during those [unclear], just
RP: He just disappeared
ME: Just, well yeah, he disappeared and there was nothing, nothing really sort of settled between us, I mean, yeah, you know, if he was on leave, yes, he’d be around some times, but I wasn’t duly bothered, except when he was, well, I remember, I received two and I don’t know why, two aerograms from him because in those days you had like a A4 sheet of paper which you put your letter on and took it to the post office and then they sort of brought it out in miniature, so it was about that size, when you got it, and I had two of those but they were facsimiles each other, I mean I don’t know how I managed to get two but somebody was making a point I think, anyway by that time, I’d been round and round the orchard a few times anyway and uhm decided
RP: Did you pick up many apples on the way?
ME: Yeah, they were good ones, they weren’t rotten,
RP: Oh, it’s alright.
ME: Just the fact that they were too young was the excuse but typical teenager, you don’t know what you want to do when you are a teenager really, I mean, you love and yeah everything’s gonna be beautiful, but doesn’t work out that way, anyway I was by this time a telegraphist [unclear] and I can remember one day I tried to exchange was Dursley, all our phone calls went to Dursley so that if a call ring the callbox needed a phone call you put them through to [unclear] which is to Dursley, well this particular call box was [unclear] as I recall, and Dursley came through to me on the other line and said, Calford, there is somebody wanting you on 3115. So I thought, I missed the fact that the previous caller had obviously put the phone down and Arthur walked straight into the box and picked it back up again and I was probably busy doing something I missed that clearance so that Arthur was through to Dursley so when I went in on the line, and I said, covert exchange, what the hell do you think you are doing? Arthur, oh my goodness me, Arthur Edwards, well, I’m an innocent here, because I didn’t do anything, I was just not too observant, [unclear] the clearance from the other call, anyway, invited me out, had ascertained beforehand from my next door neighbour beforehand who was a [unclear] pilot who I’d grown with as well was [unclear] with going out with anybody so this lad [unclear] and said no I don’t think so, she had a bit of a relationship but it’s collapsed I think so I should think she is free as air so he got straight to the callbox then you see, what the hell do you think you’re doing? [unclear] cause you know he’d been a couple of years in Canada so and wasn’t [unclear] how he expected me to react I do not know. However we did get together and that was, that must have been sort of towards August ’43 I would think and then by January ’44 he [unclear] onto OTU yes, he came home on leave as we got together and I was in [unclear] telephone exchange then and because the contrast between Bristol telephone exchange and the country exchange was enormous but when D-Day arrived, I walked into the switch room there was no activity at all in that switch room, it was as quiet as a grave, and previous to that, we’d been like hats in a toy shop, there were lights everywhere, you couldn’t, you didn’t have enough hands and enough [unclear] to be able to answer anything that you needed to answer, but you knew that day [static interference noise] when you walked in why you would be working so hard because it was all the preparation for D-Day and I mean we in Bristol, you know, there was lots of activity round Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, it was just that activity for those three months and more prior to D-Day and yeah, so he came, he came down to Bristol just before he started ops in May and he had a leave in July which was when we decided we would get married because by then he’d worked out that his ops would have finished so it was a better time to do it but it didn’t work out quite that way, we had arranged it was gonna be October the 7th and we, had I known, I’d, well, I may not have been a bride that day because I can’t think what the name of the op was but it was the one where they were carrying gallons and gallons of petrol in jerry cans across to Brussels, the name of that place, it’s a main airport now, something like [unclear] Melstock or something, can’t remember but they were supplying the British army with petrol, that, 4 Group were asked to do that and it was just jerry cans in the fuselage and they had to practically hedge-hop because they had to be under the German radar so that they wouldn’t be noticed and I think that was from about September the 25th until when he came home when we were married on the 7th so that he should’ve been I think home on the Tuesday and he wasn’t, didn’t come to the Thursday, which was two days before we were getting married, and I came off [unclear] which I’d just done from you dad, and when I walked in the living room there’s a huge bunch of black grapes [unclear] where they come from? Cause, I mean, fruit during the war was a real luxury, I mean, you could get lemons, and I liked them and actually used to be very, very naughty cause I’d take them to the pictures with me, and [unclear] and all around you could, you [unclear] people, smacking their lips you know, [unclear] lemon, which I thought was funny, I was enjoying it but they weren’t, anyway
RP: I can tell you the name of the airport is Melsbroek
ME: Melsbroek,
RP: Melsbroek
ME: Yeah, that’s right, it
RP: 25th of September 1944
ME: That’s right, it was
RP: So, where was he flying from at that time?
ME: He was flying from Pocklington
RP: Ah, right, that’s where he’s based
ME: It was 102 squadron
RP: He was based at, he was based at Pocklington
ME: He was based at Pocklington
RP: On 102, yeah?
ME: Yeah, 102, Ceylonese, Ceylon Squadron. And I’ve got a feeling I can’t really remember the name of the secretary in the association, Tom something beginning with a W and I know Rog didn’t like him, Arthur said, the engineer, he didn’t like him, he told somebody and I was talking to Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork last weekend because I know there’s a tape in RAF A archives which Arthur made about his time in the RAF. There’s one in Canada but I don’t want to impose that task for my son at the moment but I could get him to copy it but I spoke to Air Commodore Pitchfork and he said he, you know, if you like to contact him, he can probably manage to get that one out on loan if you want it, I mean, and there you got Arthur’s own version of [unclear]
RP: I remember, yeah, I know the name cause I’ve read some of his articles, is Graham Pitchfork?
ME: Graham Pitchford. I’ve got his telephone number if you want it.
RP: I know the, yeah, I know the name.
ME: Yeah and because I remember going to an RAF association open meeting at Hereford, the wives used to go sometimes, it was mainly the lads but the wives were invited sometimes, and that day it was the Air Commodore and he was really upset the thing that a lot of the history was being lost and being confined to skipt.
RP: Yeah, well, books like that will recover it and we will make sure we contact these people, don’t we?
ME: Yeah, as I said, it’s a tape.
RP: Yeah, that’s fine.
ME: That is Arthur and he must have done it between 1996 and ’99, because when we came back up from West Wales, we joined Gloucester RAF Association and we weren’t too impressed so we went across to Hereford cause we, distant forest from the Forest of Dean
RP: Yeah
ME: By this time, we’ve gone back to forest anyway
RP: Oh yes
ME: And they were really, really nice up there and I know it must have been, I would’ve said, ’97 to ’99, he was dead by June ’99, so that should pinpoint the date,
RP: Yes
ME: If they [unclear] the date order
RP: Ok.
ME: As I said, Graham Pitchfork said, get in touch with him and he did his best.
RP: Well, thanks for that, yeah, we will make a note
ME: [unclear]
RP: I’ll make a note of afterwards, so, yeah
ME: Yeah, fine.
RP: So, after having taken all that petrol, what did he do after that? Did he resume normal flying then, after the petrol?
ME: Uhm, yes, he still then had a couple of ops to do, didn’t he? Because they weren’t considered ops, they were only [unclear] or something, so he still had some more to do, so he, we got married on the 7th so he must have had a week’s leave, so that was back on the 14th or something, and he’d still got these couple of ops. It’s all in there, it’s all in that book actually, they set off on this raid and I can, whether it was to Cologne or not, I’m not sure and as they were flying, they were seeing aircraft turning round and going back but as I said, he probably realised that failure is not part of Arthur’s vocabulary and no, he wasn’t going to abort. He didn’t abort when he lost his escape hatch, he didn’t abort when with the bee, [unclear] but [unclear] could understand why these aircraft were turning back, and then he suddenly realised that they’d lost an engine, and that the [unclear] of that engine was so [unclear], and then they lost another and Roger [unclear] said you know and I’m happy about this, so the, something’s happening and I think we should turn back but Arthur said, just [unclear], just stop, not, we’re doing what we set out to do, but then he lost another so Rog comes down in the cockpit with his parachute over his shoulder and said, what? If you don’t turn back now, then I’m walking home. So, Arthur realised something was really up and yes, they did turn back, cause they hadn’t got to target, so they got their bombs on board and then because the army was still going up through, they weren’t free to drop their load anywhere, it had to be over the sea, I think they were down for about three thousand feet something when they managed to drop it and they just got into Manston because the engines were pouring and all the oil had sort of thinned out
RP: Yeah
ME: Yeah, so,
RP: Yeah, sounds like the major problem
ME: [unclear] it sort of was [laughs] they put themselves down and Roger looked at the aircraft and he was quite disgusted cause it was covered in oil from propeller to tail and he’d nursed that aircraft through all those ops, you know. Anyway, Arthur went up to the control tower to report that to base to say that they had landed away from base, they were at Manston and [static interference noise] came back down and he said to him, that’s it. That was the end of their tour. So,
RP: How many ops was their tour?
ME: Say again.
RP: How many ops did they do on, was it thirty? It was thirty [unclear]
ME: It was something thirty-nine and a bit.
RP: Was it more?
ME: Yeah, was like thirty-nine and a bit, I think, it’s on the nose of the aircraft
RP: Right.
ME: The daylight ones were in white, I think, the night ones were in brown I think, they various symbols for what they did and it’s all recorded on the nose of the aircraft which was why when Tim wrote that book he could tell when that picture was taken, bit amazing, I don’t know how he worked it out but he did.
RP: It’s good, isn’t it? Amazing!
ME: Yeah, uhm, anyway, I guess Arthur took himself off to the officers’ mess but Rog, the flight engineer, and Walker, the rear gunner, and [unclear] it must have been Mason, wireless operator air gunner, they decided, right, they were going out on the town, so people in Manston gave them a real good night out cause they realised that they just come off an op so they didn’t pay for any drink that night but they were well and truly away with the fairies I would think there is a word that they would use but I’m a lady so I won’t use it. Anyway, they decided then because they’d finished all, all the way off [unclear] they were going down onto the beach so these three [unclear] down to the beach and they heard a lot of commotion, an awful lot of shouting and the police arrived because the beach was a minefield, wasn’t it?
RP: Oh dear!
ME: They had just escaped from that aeroplane and went down on the beach. Anyway, the police took them away, put them in jail, bedded them down, gave them supper and they slept it off and I think [unclear] went down the next day and retrieved them. But they had to wait then for major things to be done before they could fly back
RP: So, they flew the aircraft back to Pocklington.
ME: They took the aircraft back to Pocklington, yeah.
RP: So, he’s finished the tour, so what did Arthur Edwards do then? Where was he
ME: What did Arthur Edwards do then? What didn’t Arthur Edwards do? Arthur Edwards, something was going on like, oh, he had [unclear] weeks leave, he kept having cables to say, your leave has been extended right and they were sent another new squadron, a transport squadron, to fly casualties out from the Middle East and it was, that was gonna be converted Halifaxes I believe, according to Tim in the book, it turned out to be Dakotas and they only went as far as the Middle East, they were all round the Middle East. Then they went from there to India, then to Burma, then to Malaya, and that is when he was in Malaya that he became personal pilot to
RP: [unclear]
ME: Air Vice Marshal
RP: Bouchier, did you say?
ME: Bouchier, was a photograph I have here somewhere and
RP: So, this was flying Dakotas before that when he was, in the Middle East he was flying Dakotas
ME: He was flying Dakotas, it was Dakotas with Transport Command, because I can remember they were in a place called Mithila, in Burma, I remember, uhm, that’s right and then, oh, and there was an op that they were going to do at [unclear] in Singapore and they were going to fly down to Singapore, they were glider towing [unclear]
RP: Because they, it’s all part of Operation Tiger, wasn’t it?
ME: That’s right. But they would not have enough fuel to get back and they were going to have to ditch and hoped that the navy would be at hand to pick them up.
RP: But in the end Operation Tiger was cancelled.
ME: It was cancelled, that’s right, so,
RP: A very large bomb went off in Japan and ended
ME: Exactly, that’s right, well then, Arthur went then and they were at a place called Iwakuni
RP: So, going back to his Halifax days,
ME: Yeah
RP: You mentioned the DFC, when did he, when was he awarded the DFC?
ME: On the February after he’d gone abroad.
RP: So, he’d finished the ops and then he was awarded, so, when did he actually receive it then, if he was abroad?
ME: By post.
RP: Really?
ME: It was sad
RP: There was no presentation?
ME: It was so sad because the King had started to be ill and he wasn’t doing the presentations, so they were sent out by post which was very sad. The same thing happened with his uhm, QC, oh what’s it, Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Services, QVSIA, he didn’t go to the palace for that, it was presented to him in the [unclear] hall Gloucester by the Duke of Beaufort.
RP: But this was obviously, Queen Elisabeth.
ME: That was when he was flying with the Guinea police air wing.
RP: So, if you go, if we go back to where we were,
ME: Yeah,
RP: Operation Tiger is cancelled and he’s in India
ME: Yeah
RP: So, what happens then?
ME: Well, that is when I got a feeling that the Air Vice Marshals was asking for a pilot and that’s when he volunteered to be that pilot. So, he flew then from Burma to Iwakuni and they, all stations up through the Pacific, which were manned by the Americans, weren’t they? And I don’t think they could believe their eyes, when they realised what luxury the US Air Force had compared to what our lads had and on their way, when they got to Singapore, where they had a night stop obviously, a burglar entered Air Vice Marshall Boucher’s quarters and took everything. So, that Arthur would then going around sort of not actually beg, borrowing and stealing, but trying to get the Air Vice Marshall kitted out to get him up to Japan, he took his uniform and everything and Arthur said, he arrived in Japan in [unclear] of clothing, you know, for an inspection of the Commonwealth troops so I don’t expect he was very pleased at that.
RP: So, he was away quite a while then from England, from you.
ME: Oh yeah, he was away from the February until August ’46.
RP: Gosh!
ME: Yeah, well
RP: That’s February ’45 or
ME: That was February ’45 until August ’46. Yeah, well, you just accepted that.
RP: So, what, you mentioned he joined Guinea police, so what year did he leave the RAF?
ME: He left the RAF in ’46, then he went in civilian life for ten years and then he decided he wanted to join the Guinea police.
RP: So, did you all move out to Guinea then?
ME: Just me,
RP: Yeah
ME: I didn’t have any children.
RP: [unclear]
ME: No. Just me, he went first and I went nine months afterwards and yeah, he had some nail-biting moments then I can tell you or when he was in Burma, he flew part of the peace commission across to Ceylon because it was Mountbatten in charge of that area then and he flew the peace mission from Rangoon across to Ceylon, oh what’s the other place in Ceylon? Kandy, is it?
RP: Kandy is in Ceylon.
ME: Yeah, possibly, yeah, uhm, and they were about to set off, uhm, with all the [unclear] and that that were necessary to take with them for signing papers and as they were walking to the aircraft, one of Arthur’s crew said, oh skip, we’ve got, we’ve got a problem, and Arthur said, what, what kind of a problem? He said, well, one of the PA’s, one of the naval officers, it’s a lady. And there were no facilities for ladies, for toilets on board because they have tubes, don’t they?
RP: Oh yes
ME: Right, yes.
RP: Yes [laughs]
ME: So, Arthur had to send another of his crew to the store to get a bucket, ready for the use of.
RP: Life was tough then.
ME: Yeah [laughs], it was, but, uhm, yeah, he was, what can I say,
RP: But you mentioned he recorded this tape in the late Nineties so between the time he’d finished flying and then, did he ever talk much about his war experiences?
ME: Occasionally.
RP: Cause most of them have, most people didn’t,
ME: No
RP: it’s only later in life that they
ME: Occasionally, not often, I mean, I knew, he told me about the bee, because he was telling me somebody else about that but, I mean, that was years and years afterwards and the escape hatch obviously.
RP: What was the one about the bee then?
ME: The bee was the one when they were on this op they started off and everything was ok and then suddenly his instruments weren’t working so he called Rog up and Rog came in and he had a good look round to see what the problem was and he couldn’t solve anything and he said, I cannot make out why you’re not getting anything from your instruments. So, Arthur had to fly in formation with another aircraft all the way to the target and back, no instruments of any kind at all, to tell him where he was, what he was doing and what height he was at or anything and, as I said, when they got back down and the ground crew took a look, it was a bee in the instrument panel.
RP: Doing what [laughs]?
ME: [unclear], it just caused something.
RP: Right.
ME: That was the explanation Arthur had from, it was a bee that had caused the problem, and I think, well, you know, what on earth?
RP: I can only think it must’ve been quite a large one.
ME: Well yeah, could’ve been a hornet I suppose [laughs], it could’ve been a hornet, but he said it was a bee. And I did try to find it in, but it may well be there I don’t know because Rog may have told uhm, you see, because Arthur was already killed before Tim wrote that book
RP: Oh, alright.
ME: So, a lot of the things he got from Roger match
RP: So,
ME: And I would have thought that Roger would’ve said about that one.
RP: Yeah, so, Arthur never read this then. Arthur has never read this book.
ME: Arthur has never that book
RP: Alright, I see.
ME: That is what is so sad,
RP: Yes.
ME: He’s never read that book and
RP: Because he could well have added to it of course.
ME: Oh, yes, of course he would. Ok. Because all [unclear], because I’ve got a lot, I have got a lot of information about the book, what, why it was written,
RP: Oh, we can have a look at that,
ME: Yeah and then he, you see, afterwards, when Arthur was killed, I was, uhm, yeah, I was in a flat in Gloucester then, uhm, which Mason, [unclear] and that is when Roger rang me and said, there’s this chap in Yorkshire who’s writing a book about the, is it ok if I give him your telephone number, because he’d like to contact you? And Rog he still contacts me
RP: Ah, that’s good.
ME: He rang me a fortnight ago to say, when is it convenient for us to come down to see you at Christmas? [unclear] come to see me at Christmas they’ve always kept in touch.
RP: That’s [unclear]. Would you happen to know if he’s been interviewed?
ME: Pardon?
RP: Would you happen to know if anyone has interviewed him?
ME: Nobody has. And I think he deserves to be.
RP: Well, I’ll take his address from you afterwards.
ME: Yeah, I, he deserves to be because that
RP: Oh absolutely. Well, if he’s done that book, he certainly does. He must have a good memory.
ME: Well, it’s the fact that, I’m not denigrating miners or anything because I was brought up in a mining community but he was only secondary school, he was a miner’s son, lived in Pontefract, uhm, he didn’t have any body, uhm, oh what do they call it? When they check read a script, he’d nobody to do that for him, what he got there is what you see, I mean, as I said to Arthur’s niece, grammatically there are a few flaws, and she said, it doesn’t matter Megan, he has recorded his [static interference noise]
RP: That’s a page of history, that’s the main thing.
ME: Yeah, that’s it.
RP: That’s exactly what you want.
ME: Yeah, so uhm, and you see, his niece’s husband, Martin, was RAF, air sea rescue, uhm, he was in the Iraq war, uhm, when he retired from the RAF, he went to fly for Monarch, so a fortnight ago he had a shock during
RP: [unclear] go well there?
ME: No, he didn’t. He said to me, Megan, it’s a good job, I didn’t realise when I put that aircraft down on Friday on the runway and I’m glad I didn’t know that was the last time I was landing an Airbus but he didn’t, he only knew during the night by an email, but now he’s had an interview for WOW and another one for Titan.
RP: Yeah, well, they are always interviewing.
ME: Yes.
RP: Ok, I think we can leave it there cause I think we’ve surely captured the essence of Arthur and I thank you for all the information that you’ve given us, it’s been lovely listening to you, thank you.



Rod Pickles, “Interview with Megan Edwards,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 24, 2024,

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