Interview with Charles Flint


Interview with Charles Flint


Charles Flint was in the Auxiliary Fire Service in London before he joined the RAF. He volunteered and began training as a wireless operator. Part of his training took place at RAF Bishops Court in Ireland where he was advised not to go out in uniform. Charles and his crew joined 115 Squadron based at RAF Witchford. They took part in Operations Manna, Exodus and Dodge before being posted overseas.







00:48:17 audio recording


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AFlintC160421, PFlintCE1601


NM: So, the date is the 21st of August. It’s 2 o’clock — of April sorry 2016. It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon. I’m with Mr Charles Flint at his address in Welwyn Garden City. Would you like to tell me a little bit about your background? Your childhood, your growing up before you joined the RAF.
CF: Well, what happened was I was working down a tube station that was completely covered in bricks so the trains could go past. Where all the people concerned with the army, navy and air force they were there. And what happened one day I went across Trafalgar Square to get stuff for the Charing Cross Hotel. And I was walking across, come across a Lancaster. And the first thing the bloke says, ‘Would you like to go on it?’ I says, ‘Yeah.’ ‘Got a name and address?’ I give him my name and address where I used to live. And it was my day off the next day and when I got home there was a letter waiting for me. My mother says, ‘What you got there?’ I said, ‘Well, mind your own business first.’ I opened it up. I’d got a, been accepted for the Royal Air Force. She said, ‘Stupid sod. You’ll be called up.’ I said, ‘I’m never going to be called up. I want to do what I would do.’ And from then on I had to go Bridgnorth. Well, you do all the personal training. Learning how to march, reverse, fire a rifle and all that business. Yeah. Went to a place called Bridgnorth where we learned how to do the Morse code. And it took thirteen months to learn all the Morse code. And once you’d learned the Morse code we started in these three [unclear] and it tells you what we were doing. So, if you’d like to read it. As I say you can see what happened.
NM: Why don’t you just tell me?
CF: Yeah.
NM: We’ll look at the books later.
CF: Yeah. So, once you’d learned to do the, what you were supposed to do you’d got to get crewed up. They put you in a big hangar. Shut the doors. Locked it. Hundreds of people inside. You got to select your crew. So, first two blokes I met was a [pause] there was a Birmingham bloke. He went up in the middle. Top of the middle of the aircraft. And he could go around and around with two guns and shoot. The other bloke was a Scotch bloke and he was a rear, rear turret. The pilot. You had to pick up who it was. And then you needed a navigator. You had to pick him up. And once you crewed up they wouldn’t let you out until everybody had crewed up. And then I went to Bridgnorth where I had thirteen months to do the Morse code. By then, when they locked you in this hangar to get the pilot and the stuff you pick out your pilot. Or go up to him saying, ‘Do you need — ?’ If he said, ‘Yes.’ ‘Could I do it?’ ‘Yes.’ So that is it. You pick it up and you‘d got a crew then of seven. From then on he has to be taught what to do and as I say the first time we had to go up I had to do a test so that I could Morse code. And until I got on that pass they won’t let you go. Well, after I’d finished the tests, got away with it, went to Bridgnorth. From Bridgnorth to Bishops Court. That’s in Ireland. There four of us were trained to fire rifles. But we had to watch it. The copper says, ‘Don’t go in town because you’ve got uniform. I’ll teach you how to do what it is.’ He come back and once you start on the aircraft, it’s the pilot. He has to do what is said here. And if you’d like to read on it tells you how it goes.
NM: Ok. But keep telling me your story.
CF: Yeah.
NM: In your own words.
CF: Pardon?
NM: So keep, keep talking.
CF: Yeah.
NM: Telling me about your own.
CF: As I say —
NM: After you’d crewed up.
CF: Well, I went in Dominies first. They’re the double winged ones which was very awkward because there was three of us going around trying to contact the wireless operator on, you know. But eventually we got through and you got the crew and we went to [pause] to a place called Witchford in Herefordshire. And there was always thirty three aircraft from each squadron. The same squadron. Thirty three A, B and C. And that was how you took off. Apparently you had about three on the runway taking off. You go over. Then he has to do low flying exercises and all this business. We just keep flying and gradually he becomes a pilot. He gets his wings. And then from then onwards we started flying. Well, there’s, in there a series of places we bombed. And the last three bombs we’d done — the first we’d done daylight attacks on the, his atomic place he was trying to build. And then the last three, last three bombs we dropped was on Potsdam when Hitler give in. And the three bombs at the time was less than when the prisoners were receiving. One of them came to my Aircrew Association and he said, ‘Who dropped the bombs?’ I said, ‘My crew.’ ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘What were they?’ I told him. There was an eighty, sixty and a forty thousand pound bombs followed by five hundred pounders. And when they dropped them we flew up about fifty feet after dropping then. And then from then onwards we flew over. We finished up in Egypt. Was out there for about seven years just doing normal flying up and down the coast. Up to Algiers where something happened to the pilot where he said, ‘Don’t ever tell Beryl what happened to me.’ That was his wife. And after seven years you had a number that you had to carry about. And that was your release number. I forget where I lived. It was somewhere in, just out of town near where the radio transmitters were, you know. And there were three women. I think it was. They, one used to go to where the Morse code machine was. Another one went to where the Beauforts used to take off. And the other one went somewhere else and they took it in turns. At the time there was about six foot of snow. And the warrant officer in charge he called me over. He said, ‘Charlie,’ he says, ‘I know what your rank is. You’re a warrant officer. Fetch the airmen down to me. We’ve got a meet. A big ATA meeting for the erks.’ The erks were just an ordinary bloke who looked after all the engines. I called them. Got them in line in threes. Marched them down. He said, ‘Right. Here’s your bed. Your place.’ I went there. A little hut. I had my own place to sleep. There was a fire inside where we had coke burners. I was there about what seven days then a letter come from somewhere. I don’t know who it was. I had to go to Blackpool. When I got up to Blackpool they took my uniform away and give me ordinary clothes and I was dismissed. And that was it.
NM: Ok.
CF: But we went to Iraq. Iran. People were quite nice. Look at them now. They’re fighting one another. That’s Daisy. She’s always after people. But — and that was the finish of my air force.
NM: Ok.
CF: And up there, oh. At the end of the war. Prior to going to Egypt we dropped food to the Dutch. And up there on the wall you can see. Up. No. Right up the right hand side there’s a big one called The Manna. The other one’s just the main — what squadron I was on. 115 Squadron. So that’s it. I was in seven years. And if I’d have had any brothers or sisters I would have gone to New Zealand. Because we had Australians, New Zealands, Canadians and all mixed crews. But as I was an only child I would have loved to have gone to New Zealand because the New Zealanders spoke better English than the Australians. But other than that as I say seven years I liked. And I didn’t know whether I should stay on or not but I didn’t. So, after I left the air force I come home. Eventually I was waiting to go to the, to the Trocadero Cinema and my two cousins got up and there was a girl there who became my wife. And that’s her over there.
NM: Right. Ok.
CF: So that’s my life in the air force and that.
NM: Can I take you —
CF: She didn’t know I’d been in the air force. I told her when we started going on holidays. Used to go Tenerife every year. And I’ve got a card over there stating it was thirty five years since we’ve been there.
NM: Can I, can I take you back?
CF: Yeah.
NM: How come, how did you choose to become a wireless operator? How did that —
CF: Pardon?
NM: How did you become a wireless operator?
CF: Oh, it took thirteen months in Bridgnorth.
NM: Yeah. But why a wireless operator? How come you become a wireless operator?
CF: Yeah. Yeah. You have to train to become it.
NM: Yeah, but —
CF: You had to learn the Morse code first. And they come along, give you a test. If you pass it then they give you your stripes which were sergeant’s stripes. And then after what was it? A year. They promoted me to a warrant officer. And then that was it. After that we finished up in the Algiers after we’d done our, all our stuff and I came out of the air force.
NM: So, can you tell me about your crew?
CF: Well, Harry Hooper was the pilot. I was the wireless operator. The navigator never told us where he come from. But Geoff came from Glasgow. He was the rear gunner. And the other bloke, I forget his name now, came from Birmingham. When we come back we had to go to customs. When we got to customs I had a big box. In it I had five thousand fifty tins of cigarettes, soap, Camel sort, three bottles of wine and he said ok. He says to Geoff, ‘What you got?’ ‘Nothing.’ ‘Open your bag [pause] Oh,’ he said, ‘That’s lovely. I want fifteen pound off of you.’ So I said, he said, ‘You got away with it.’ I said, ‘I told him what I had. More than you.’ But otherwise he got nothing because it was taken away from him because he couldn’t pay the fifteen pound. All we had was shrapnel. And that was the finish of the air force.
NM: Ok. So, you were based in Witchford.
CF: Pardon?
NM: You were based in Witchford.
CF: Witchford.
NM: 115 Squadron.
CF: Yeah. Herefordshire.
NM: So, what was life like on the squad —
CF: Eh?
NM: Tell me what life was like on the squadron.
CF: Oh well. As I say you was, you was in your billets and if you was going on you would be woken up by one of the erks and said you were due to fly. You’d get dressed. Go in the café and you’d be eggs and bacon. Every time you go on a trip you got eggs and bacon. But as I say there was thirty three aircraft who took off one after the other over the cathedral. And in the cathedral there’s books about this size. That thick. There’s twenty. Over twenty of them. Names and addresses where they lived. They’re the people who died in the squadron. And our squadron actually had the most losses throughout. Even in the First World War. And as I say after seven years I was out of the air force.
NM: Ok.
CF: And as I say I was living in London, nothing to do and suddenly out of here appeared this woman who became my wife. Fifty eight years married. Now she’s up in the crematorium. But other than that everything’s ok now.
NM: Are there any of the trips you did, any of the operations you did —
CF: Yeah.
NM: With 115.
CF: It’s all in the books.
NM: Yeah. Are there any —
CF: Yeah. I’d done about ten. Ten day ones. And the last one was on Potsdam. Nights. That took us eight hours fifty.
NM: So —
CF: And that finished the war.
NM: So you did about eleven trips with 115.
CF: Yeah.
NM: Yeah. And during that time were you ever attacked?
CF: Well, we was attacked because you’d got holes coming in but it was strong enough to stop the bullets coming out. Coming in. You could hear them trinkling along the wing and catching in the power — they were blown away. So, funnily enough we never had that. The last trip we was doing over to Potsdam it was a night attack and the skipper said, ‘Go down. See the flare go out. Make sure it hits.’ But we used to have a little thing called H2S but they took it out because the Germans could track it. A big six hole, in the dark, walking along, parachute in one hand holding on, walking slowly over this, ‘Ok Harry. Flares gone.’ And I got back and that was it. And that was the last op finished.
NM: So —
CF: So, that was my time in the air force.
NM: Any more? Any more stories from your operations? Can you remember?
CF: Not really. As I say the, I think there were one on Denmark. On the atomic business they were trying to do. That’s all I know. Other than [pause] see we, we had to do the job. They never told us what it was all about. We had to keep our mouths shut. Before we took off we were searched for cigarettes. If you had cigarettes with you they were taken. Put in a bag. Because you were not allowed to fly and smoke. Not like the Americans. But in the Americans we had an, he landed because he ran out of petrol and when he saw the bomb bay he says, ‘What’s that?’ I said, ‘It’s the bomb bay.’ ‘What bombs are you carrying?’ And I told him. He said, ‘I can’t believe that aircraft can take that lot up,’ because all they had was twelve little bombs. Five hundred pounders. They flew in squares which the Jerry had under, their fighter pilots had the upward firing machine guns and they shot down more aircraft from the American Air Force because they flew in a square. And they were about twenty three thousand feet above us. And their blokes used to stand and sing and smoke. And that was my time in the air force. I really, I enjoyed it. If I’d, as I say had brothers or sisters I would have gone with one of the New Zealanders that was on our crew. Because as I said they speak English better than the Australians. Other than that, after the dismissal they give you a number. You get, you go up to Blackpool. You lose your uniform and they give you clothes, tickets back and that was it.
NM: So, so after the war you went — you say you went to Egypt.
CF: Yeah.
NM: That with a different squadron? Was it?
CF: No. That was seven. We had number 70 and 178. That was so we had three squadrons.
NM: And what were you doing in Egypt? What were the squadrons doing in Egypt?
CF: Well, looking. Well, at the time the desert was being cleared up but we weren’t used. We was waiting to be used but we were never used because those Communist blokes done their job. And as I say the last flight we’d done was to this place right at the end of where the Mediterranean finishes. And that’s where what happened to the pilot. I can’t even say it. I can’t even tell you what happened. It’s got to be kept secret.
NM: Ok.
CF: And that was my time in the air force. I really liked it. And I came back and I started work at the post office. I was forty five years in the post office. And I finished up doing forty two hours overtime every Friday. That was for forty five years because they wouldn’t accept another people. Another person taking place. And I was doing it on overtime. So that’s, and the amount of money I got I used to give to the wife. I says, ‘Help yourself to what you want.’ I left the air force. Got a job in a — they were doing shop fitting. I learned all the tools barring one and that was the one that goes around and around. Twenty thousand revs a minute. Of course my wife’s uncle he used that machine and he came home one day. His wife had died. He came home like that. No fingers. He had a little dog. And he put his head in the gas oven. Committed suicide because he couldn’t, couldn’t work.
NM: Oh dear.
CF: But other than that.
NM: So, how long were you in the Middle East?
CF: Pardon?
NM: How long were you in the Middle East with your squadrons? Because you mentioned —
CF: I went out there about five or six years.
NM: So, during that time you say you, you flew over Egypt, Iran, Iraq.
CF: Yeah.
NM: What were you actually doing though? What were these missions?
CF: Well, we were just doing, you know keeping in control of flying. We didn’t drop any bombs anywhere else. It was just a matter that what happened was when we was taking off [pause] people follow you. They track every aircraft and they, I got a message, ‘Tell your pilot to land at Truro.’ So I tell. He said, ‘Well, what have we got at Truro?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. Ask them.’ Of course when we got there we had to change the aircraft from black to white. And that was it. And we just, we went by train to Cairo. Quite nice. Come back on the train. All the women had their tits out in front of us feeding their kids. That was the way they carried on. But now look at them. Fighting one another. But other than that that was my time in the air force. And up there is quite a few things if you’d like to see. I’ve got plenty of them around there but the most information you’ll see at the end. Come up the end and I’ll show you.
NM: Yeah.
CF: Yeah.
NM: Yeah. We’ll do that at the end shall we?
CF: Eh?
NM: We’ll do that at the end.
CF: Do it again.
NM: So, since you left the air force have you, did you go to any reunions with the squadrons?
CF: Yeah. I go once a month to an Aircrew Association in Hemel Hempstead. And everybody there, well the majority of them were all on Lancaster bombers. But there is a bloke there. He’s in charge. He used to fly the Queen about. But other than that I don’t know what he’d done otherwise. Sometimes we have letters with other unions aircraft. ACA blokes. But you’ve got to pay about twenty pound. And I’ve got no car now so I have to rely on Rod to take me anywhere. So, other than that I had a very good time in it. I didn’t [pause] I liked it and as I say if I’d had brothers and sisters I might have stayed in. I might have got a commission. But as I say I came out as a warrant officer. It’s unusual.
NM: When you, when you look back at your time in Bomber Command.
CF: Yeah.
NM: What’s your main thoughts?
CF: Main source?
NM: Thoughts. What do you think about your time in Bomber Command?
CF: I thoroughly enjoyed it. You know, it was a job we had to do. So as I say I was glad I’d done what I had to do. We went up to Gatow and Berlin was absolutely flat. And this boy, this girl, I says, ‘Are you hungry?’ And we’d opened up a [unclear] club there. So she says, I brought them out, she said, ‘Do you want anything?’ Because it wasn’t the Russians that invaded. It was the Mongols. Because one of them told me and he saw my watch. He said, ‘Can I have that?’ I said, ‘No.’ He had thirteen watches up his arm. He couldn’t wind them up. Didn’t know how to wind them up. And that was in Gatow. And from there I just came out and that was it.
NM: So what were you doing in Berlin? Was that —
CF: We was checking. You know. See what we’d done.
NM: So this was —
CF: We was given that permission to do. And as I say it was absolutely flat and they got a big sign. It goes up. And there’s a big thing on it and it comes down and that was the only thing that was left standing. And that was at the end of Gatow. A place called Gatow. But after that I did, I loved it in the air force. I got, I’m keen on flying but nowadays we go on what they called Project Propeller. And little aircraft like up at, just up the road there used to fly all the people. You’d go to a certain airport like all the along the coast. Various airports. You had, all land, you had about three hundred aircraft there and you find your people from the ACA there as well. So, as I say yesterday I went back to the [pause] and they all clapped when they see me coming in because I’ve been in hospital for eight weeks with this all caused by a blood clot. And that’s my stories.
NM: Ok.
CF: If you’ve got it recorded.
NM: Well, we have.
CF: I hope you have.
NM: We have.
CF: So, as I say, if you come down the end I’ll show you the stuff there.
NM: Before we do that —
CF: Yeah.
NM: Can we go right back to the beginning and tell me about your childhood? Where did you grow up? What was your school like? What did you do before the air force?
CF: Well, at school there was seven classes. You do it one at a time. Nine out of ten if you was on the last lot at fourteen if you’d done anything wrong you got a cane. And that school was in Westminster Bridge Road.
NM: In —
CF: Yeah. And I got a cane pretty often. But, and as I say after I left it was a long time before I told my wife that I’d been in the air force and she says, ‘What’s it like? Flying.’ I says, ‘Alright. Let’s go on holiday.’ Of course they’d changed over to jets. And it was the first jet I ever saw landed in Camden Town at the end of the road where I had to go and identify her husband’s body. That was my wife’s mother. And I identified him and then we was living, we had our own place and she used to come up. I had a nice fire going and she would, counted her money. And Vin came in, says, ‘For Christ’s sake mum stop counting that money.’ She says, ‘It’s my money.’ So Vin says, ‘If you keep on counting it — well she got into a sort of a dementia. And she put her out of the way and from then on we was just on our own. We used to have three holidays a year. One in May, June, September and we used to go to Seaton in the caravan. We had that for a few years. But as I say after fifty eight years she died and that was it. Heart attack. I would never go for another woman.
NM: Right.
CF: No.
NM: Ok.
CF: No. I always said that. You hear people like our Geoff who was one of the blokes in the ACA he has, his wife died. He got another girl. They, they lived together. Didn’t marry. She run away. Leaving him. Another girl. She’s now left him. That was it.
NM: Why don’t we go up there and —
CF: Yes.
NM: You can talk me.
CF: Yeah.
NM: Tell me about the things.
CF: Yeah.
NM: On the wall. Is that alright? Are you alright?
CF: Yeah.
NM: Right.
CF: Well, first of all that was painted by my wife. This thing is the Manna Operation where we dropped the food.
NM: Tell me a bit about that.
CF: We’d done about four trips at fifty feet. That was what I used to do. And there’s all the crew. And that’s my warrant.
NM: Your warrant for —?
CF: Yeah.
NM: For what? Tell me about the trips. The Manna trips.
CF: Eh?
NM: What was it like on the Manna trips over Holland?
CF: Well, the Germans said five hundred feet. We said no. Fifty feet. Because all the stuff would have opened up. And they had their planes waiting if you dropped them too low. We dropped them and took off again. You kept flying. We was low flying. That’s one of the, what you had, what the pilot had to do training. Low flying. And as you see that’s what it’s all about. That was my signaller’s badge. That’s the wireless operator’s badge. That was the crew. And that was what I used to do. That was more wanted than what the others wanted.
NM: Charles is showing me a photograph of a wireless operator in a Lancaster.
CF: Yeah.
NM: So did your crew stay together for the whole of your time?
CF: Yeah. Yeah. That’s it. Yeah. But as I say well that’s me. That was a flight engineer. He was a pilot. He trained in Canada with Harry. But that was the pilot. Where is he? He’s there. And there’s, he’s from Birmingham. The other two were in Scotland.
NM: You said you had some New Zealanders on the crew as well.
CF: Eh?
NM: People from New Zealand.
CF: Yeah.
NM: On the crew.
CF: No. We, we was an all, well English and Scotch. I did a training in Bishops Court for a certain thing to do. Was too. We went, four of us wireless operators went into town and the police, they had rifles. Stopped us going. They said, ‘You’re in uniform.’ That was when the IRA was pelting them. Other than that that’s my seat. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
NM: Very good.
CF: We went and I saw Prince Edward. I had all them on. He, I went up and I said, ‘Hello Prince Edward. How are you? I’m Charlie Flint,’ so and so squadron. He said, ‘I’ve only got three medals.’ And I’ve got a photo of him over there.
NM: So, when did you meet Prince Edward?
CF: When, met him in the Guildhall on the seventy fifth anniversary of the RAF. Yeah. And the only other bloke there was Geoff. One of our blokes. And they supplied us with food. But there’s another one when I was in my battledress.
NM: Did you keep in touch with your crew after the war?
CF: Yeah. I’m still in touch with only Harry. We’re the only two left.
NM: Ok.
CF: I’ve been up to his place several times when I had a car. But now I use the phone. And he doesn’t know, he didn’t even know what the AC was. There’s nothing like that where he lives in Hampshire. So other than that nothing. Otherwise as you see there’s planes all around the place.
NM: So, did you, did you have reunions with the aircrew?
CF: Yeah.
NM: After the war.
CF: Yeah.
NM: You had. You met up with the crew after the war, did you?
CF: Yeah. As I say there’s only the two of us left. But otherwise if I had, as I say brothers or sisters I might have got a commission and stayed in. But as it is I came out as a warrant officer and I thought well if I get fed up staying here I can join the Beefeaters what the Queen has. Because they’re all ex-servicemen. But they’re like warrant officers, sergeants and corporals but they’re all on different levels. But would I, would I be accepted?
NM: We’ll just pause it there, I think.
CF: Yeah. Yeah.
[recording paused]
NM: Turn the tape recorder back on.
CF: Yeah.
NM: So tell us about the time —
CF: I was —
NM: In the auxiliary air force — in the fire service.
CF: Yeah. I was with a bloke. He’d only got a wooden leg. And we had to listen for the air raid sirens and inform the headquarters where we trained. And they used to do a show every Wednesday. People used to go and watch them. How the, how the firemen got rid of flames and everything.
NM: So, this was before the RAF.
CF: Yeah.
NM: And where was this? Where were you doing this?
CF: Yeah. That was, that was 1939. All that stuff. When the war started.
NM: But whereabouts were you? Where were you based? Living.
CF: Well, I was living in a place called Campbell Buildings. And there was five blocks there.
NM: Was this in London?
CF: In London. Yeah. I went to Westminster School. I even joined the Cubs. And my mum and dad used to go to their relations and I come out one day it was pouring with rain. They didn’t give me a key to get in so I had to go about five miles to this place. Knock on the door, ‘What are you doing soaking wet?’ ‘Because you didn’t give me a key.’ ‘Oh.’ From then on I had my own key. Yeah.
Other: Where was Campbell Buildings.
CF: Eh?
Other: Where was Campbell Buildings?
CF: Oh they was just off the Westminster Bridge Road. The Bakerloo Line. Lambeth.
NM: So, were you in the Auxiliary Fire Service during the Blitz?
CF: Yeah.
NM: So, you were heavily involved in fire fighting during the Blitz.
CF: Yeah.
NM: Tell me. Tell me a bit about that.
CF: Well, there was not much really because we was only there if the Fire Brigade, you know they had a box you used to push, break open. That called them. You didn’t have to tell them where you are because the box was numbered and they knew where to come. So all the fire stations had these boxes. They were all over the country. But now they don’t use them. It’s a 999 call for them now.
NM: But what was it like fighting fires during the Blitz?
CF: Oh, it was murder for them really because if you look at the damage that was done. Fortunately, the only bomb that landed on our roof was a little one. A fire one. But I kicked it off the roof. That was the only one we had. But all along the docks over the side of the River Thames they were all alight and of course the Germans were bombing there. But when the alarm went all the people went down the tube station. And the Tube still kept running. When the alarm went off again, the clear, everybody moved. Eventually it finished up that they put in beds for the kids and they stayed there all night. And the trains were still going. But it wasn’t a nice place. As I say I got a job as a paper boy. And the bloke says, ‘You’re stealing off me.’ I said, ‘I’m not.’ He said, ‘You are.’ I said, ‘Right. You will never have another paperboy.’ He said, ‘I will.’ I told all the boys, ‘Don’t go papers delivering for him. He calls you a liar.’ He had to shut his shop up. But other than that as I say it was, what was it? Oh, I’d left school. Got this job in [unclear] State Railways. And three days later they shut down. So I had to go down to a place in, just off Queen’s Park — no. Green Park. And it was a disused tube station. So I worked there quite some time and one day I said to them, ‘I’ve been accepted for the Royal Air Force now.’ From then on. That’s how it begun.
NM: Excellent. Let’s just, let’s just have a look through your logbook shall we?
CF: Yeah. Have a look.
[recording interrupted]
CF: Finished. We went to Egypt and that was 70 and 178 Squadrons then.
NM: And that was your whole crew —
CF: Yeah.
NM: Went with you.
Other: Osborne. He was one of your regulars wasn’t he?
CF: Eh?
Other: Osborne. Wasn’t he one of your regulars?
CF: No.
Other: No.
CF: No.
Other: I thought he was.
CF: You’ll see the names of the crew on there.
Other: I can see you were a sergeant. Osborne another one. It was Geoff Osborne. Geoff Osborne was the guy. He was one of your regulars.
CF: Who was the navigator?
Other: It doesn’t. Oh, someone called Hough. Sergeant Hough. H O U G H.
CF: Houghs. Yeah
Other: What’s his name? Hough.
CF: I didn’t always know at the time. It’s only in that book. Or that page.
Other: Ok.
CF: No. That was all the crew that that was on.
Other: Yeah. But this is, this is on your plane. 696.
CF: Yeah. Very —
NM: So, tell me again. You came home from Egypt.
CF: Eh?
NM: You came back from Egypt and flew into Cornwall. Tell me about the trip home.
CF: I was at, that was because I went to Cornwall before. I went. On the 1st of May we was having our overcoats because they used to have a stick making sure your overcoat was conformed and the officer said, ‘You’re sweating. Why?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ I’d got pneumonia. I was off for about a week. They sent me, they said, ‘Anywhere you can go?’ I said, ‘Yeah. I’ve got a place down in Ottery St Mary.’ They gave me the tickets. They said, ‘Come back in a week.’ Gave me another chit back to Ottery St Mary and I think that time that fortnight saved my life because the way they was shooting down the aircraft at the time was really horrible. And it was a last sort of stuff. Last. When we dropped the bombs on Potsdam that finished him. That’s when he committed suicide. And we went over to Gatow and that was it. I liked to, you know see what happened but quite a few of our blokes had done the same thing.
NM: I see from your logbook that you took, did some flights to repatriate some prisoners of war.
CF: Yeah.
NM: Tell me. Tell me a bit about those.
CF: Well, we went to Juvencourt in France. And at Juvencourt — yeah that’s in France, we used to pick up twenty four people. One of the blokes I sat beside he’d been a prisoner of war. I says, ‘You’re going home?’ He said, ‘No. I’m coming back.’ I said, ‘Why?’ He said, ‘I worked on a farm and married a farmer’s daughter.’ And he said, ‘I’ve got a child.’ [laughs] A prisoner of war. Things like that, you know you can’t really believe it. And then we flew out to Italy and we got all the people back from there. That was in Italy. At a place called Bari. Where I bought three hundred, three bottles of wine. And that was, I gave them to my dad. He took them to the hotel, come back and give me seven fifty.
NM: So, were the prisoners grateful for a flight in a Lancaster home?
CF: Eh?
NM: Were the prisoners happy to see you?
CF: He was.
NM: No. No. Were the prisoners you picked up?
CF: Oh yeah.
NM: Were they?
CF: But as I say this other one he, as I say he hadn’t been put in prison because they was using prisoners to do all the gardening and stuff and he married one of the farmer’s girls. Then stayed there. The blokes I felt sorry for though was all that parachute lot that dropped. Because the Germans upwards you know because the parachutes bullets go through and the parachutes fold up. Unfortunately I never used my parachute but my daughter done a parachute drop from fourteen thousand feet. I thought she had a — I’d done it. I wished I’d have done. I would have loved to have done one. We tried. We were trained how to do it. You know, you had to land on a bar and land. And how to land. You sort of landed up and push yourself up. But as I say Sue she’s done one. And I thought of all the time I’d done flying she’s done one of them. I can’t believe it.
Other: So if I look up the Bomber Command website —



Nigel Moore, “Interview with Charles Flint,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 30, 2024,

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