Interview with John Hanks


Interview with John Hanks


John Hanks joined the RAF and served as an armourer. Describes his role and his duties. Tells of his posting at Swinderby and East Kirkby. Gives a graphic and vivid account of an aircraft crash at RAF Swinderby. Describes comradeship between ground crew and aircrew. Expresses personal views regarding the bombing campaign.








00:42:58 audio recording


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AHanksJ160622, PHanksJ1602


IB: This interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Digital Archive. The interviewer is Ian Boole and the interviewee is Mr John Hanks. Thank you for telling your story today John. Also present is Rita May, Mr Hanks’ daughter. And the interview is taking place at Mr. Hanks’s home in Potterhanworth in Lincoln on the 22nd of June 2016, at approximately 2.20 pm. Over to you, John.
JH: Yeah. Well, I can also answer any questions you like to ask me. Be the best way. Or do you want me to go through the whole?
IB: If you’d like to start with you preservice and your early days.
JH: Yeah, what before this.
IB: before the war.
JH: Well just, yeah, my father, biological father is not here now, he served in the First World War in India. I was born in 1922, poor family obviously and grew up in Battersea, London, left school at fourteen, ordinary elementary school, went to work, 1936 I started work, I was fourteen then and time presses on, 1937 comes round, ‘38 and the signs of war, Mr, what’s his name, went across with a piece of paper?
IB: Chamberlain.
JH: Chamberlain, Mr Chamberlain comes up with a bit of paper, peace in our time, [unclear] when you think about it, we weren’t ready, so 1938 passes, breathe a sigh of relief, thank God for that, no war but 1939, what happens? It happens, Hitler walks into Czechoslovakia we start war, so [unclear] onwards I’m still living in Battersea, London, my mates join the LDV, which became the Home Guard, we guarded bridges, Battersea bridges, things like that and then we had the Blitz start, but I lived through the whole of the Blitz, from beginning to the very end, night after night after night, it’s unbelievable, youngsters said, I can’t imagine what it would be like to live and try to sleep under noise of aircraft, guns and bombs coming down, unbelievable, I can hardly believe it myself today now but we survived. 1941 I decide I’ve got to go up, I’m gonna be called up anyway and I want to go into the Royal Air Force, I like mechanical, I liked things like that so I joined the Royal Air Force, go down to Croydon, there are offices there to join up, asked a few questions, no, I‘m not very good at maths, and when the officer asked me how often, add a half and a third together, I just [unclear] together [unclear] so he said to me, well, he said, I’ll put you down for ACAGD but I didn’t know what it was, aircraft and general duty so that’s it and waited to get called up, sent to [unclear], sent down to Penrhos in South Wales, got down there, kitted out, you know, [unclear] then sent over to Weston-super-Mare and that’s where we started the basic training, marching up and down, sleuthing to the front and the right and all this, anyway, put on guard at the, you know, new pier down there, given a rifle, no ammunition, no, might have hurt somebody [laughs] but we got a rifle anyway and we put down there we were told, you know [unclear] anybody, it goes there and that you know, anyway and from there passed out the end of the training, sent up to Edinburgh, which was [unclear] at the time, I forget what squadron was there, I think it was, I’m not sure, a fighter squadrons up there because the Germans were coming in sometimes up the, you know, the, I forget the river now, what’s the river, where Edinburgh runs, I forget the river now, anyway, they would come up there and attack, you know, go back and I’m put on, looking after the air crew, cause some of the air crew, French pilots learning to take off and landing on aircraft carriers, you know, and on air the best [unclear] in case is a crash and the pilots burning so it [unclear] and it worries me and I’ll tell this I was and I don’t think I gotta tell you and [unclear] and so he says, oh, so [unclear] to get me posted so I get posted up to Shetland islands where I am up at Sullom Voe on PBY Catalinas which is American aircraft and that’s where we, you know, doing their work from there, and I get interested in armoury so I’m put in the armoury section, helping armourers doing fiddly jobs and interesting, so I decide I’ll remuster, see if I can remuster to armourer I [unclear] for, you know, remustering, I’m accepted and I sit down to create a new letter for on an armourer’s course and there I was down there knowing all about every armour under the sun, weapons, all kind of weapons, hydraulics, turrets, the lot, I passed out as AC1 so I’ve covered AC2 now to AC1, that’s not bad, and I was posted to Swinderby in Lincoln here with 1660, HBCU which is heavy Bomber Command unit, so I’m posted there, what we’re doing there, we are training crews in [unclear] to work in Lancasters or Halifaxes so if we got Halifaxes there and we got, so when I get there we got Halifaxes, we only got the Lancasters so on there armourer I’m shown me jobs, another armourer tells me what I have to do each day so I learn that, so every day I will have to go out in the morning to make aircraft dedicated to me and I will have to check every armour, that’s the ammunition, the 303 Brownings, the turret system, the hydraulics, the power technics, everything, any can [unclear], the carrier, the bomb carriers, the lot, so I have to do that every day and then I’d have to sign form seven hundred, I will sign a form seven hundred in my trade, all the other trades are, you know, you will be a mechanic, you would have to sign, electrician they also signed it, the last one to sign would be the captain the aircraft, he is satisfied, he signed it, now that aircraft is fit to fly, that’s the last what I would do and that would be, and that would have left us there to the next job, next aircraft or in between flights inspection just to check everything is going ok and that’s what I would have to do as an armourer and then of course, I think, after being there for a while, they sent me down to Waddington here and I got a feeling, they at the beginning of the war, they were trying to, they were using armourers as air gunners because you had no better gunner than an armourer who knew all about, if a [unclear] dropped a gun, you knew how to clear it, an ordinary gunner who wasn’t an armourer might be, what I do now? So I think it was trying to do the same with me, when we went to Waddington, they would put us on a, into a sort of an imitation turret where you would fire at imitation aircraft flying but that’s all that and there and it came up when I was sent to East Kirkby, where I was attached to 57 and 630 Squadron and there we were bombing up, you know, proper because Swinderby, the only bombing I have done at Swinderby was putting practice bombs up, dynamite bombing would be a bomb which would just be smoked when it came up, if you were bombing at night, it would be a flash bomb, a flash grenade and eight pounders it was all putting up but when we went to, when I went to East Kirkby, we was bombing up for real, we was bombing up on the cookies, that’s the four thousand pounder, o might be an eight thousand pounder and I haven’t put up a twelve thousand pounder, I think I put up an eight thousand pounder but I most certainly put up plenty of four thousand pounders, they called them cookie, and of course you put a cookie up and you put rows of five hundred or two fifty pound bombs except at one day we was putting up a cookie and canisters of incendiaries [unclear] and the incendiaries is a big can, inside the can is about, I think about fourteen incendiaries, they all fit in place, they are octagonal put together but each one keeps the [unclear] out, you in and then there’s a cross by that comes across now when they drop them, the bomb aimer selects the drop bars, the drop bars fall away and all the incendiaries come out, when they go out, they’re alive and I’m up in front position and I, we put these canisters up and I’m up at the very top so I’ve got to come all down to the bomb armourer below, ok, is on? Wind it up, very slowly up cause the can of incendiaries to top position, now it’s clear so I released but the thing was the cable wasn’t in and all canisters went straight away down, right across the bomb trolley and bent it all up but not one drop bar fell out so luckily saved the situation [laughs] but I sweat a bit [laughs] but that’s about the only incident I can ever remember that happened to me. It’s, we use to have a bit of a fun when we used to have to, when we bombed up it seemed to be, the bombs would come up, fill up with petrol or whatever, the bomb, we would come out, bomber, I guarantee you every time we finished, change loads, change loads and he comes down, petrol [unclear] comes up, for several reasons I can understand is the enemy couldn’t work out the distance when we were going or the amount of fuel it was carrying, if the, you know, found out, he was put in so many gallons of fuel in, it would give some idea of where that plane, they would gonna go. And I think that was the idea, why they changed loads the last minute to, you know, and that’s what we but coming back to Swinderby we were there, they were training, training crew, they were trained in take-off and landing so circuits and bumps we called them, diversions, now the diversions as far as I know, HBCU, 166 HBCU would form up with other HBCU [unclear], 54 and they would form up in a big [unclear] of aircraft and they would take-off and away, the point was the enemy would get the guess, they’re gonna make a raid over there but they won’t, they might as well go over there, so we were diverted, it was diversion so once again, the enemy was getting [unclear] and that’s part of the job of 1660, so that’s about all as much I can tell you of 1660 anyway [laughs] but is there anything else, you know, can I tell you?
IB: How was your relationship with the aircrew, you come in contact with them [unclear]?
JH: Yeah, very, well, sometimes I’d have to go out there and I want, I can’t check the turrets cause hydraulic system, I can’t check the turrets without the engines running, the engines are gonna work to get the pumps pushing the fuel for you through, you know, so the hydraulics worked, then once I run the engines, certain engines for the front or rear or mid upper, run the engines up and get in, and check them, make sure the guns were elevate and depressed and the turret would go around cause we are using a Frazer-Nash turret, it was the best turret I’ve ever come across, two grips like this, you go like that and when you are on the turret, [unclear] you know, it was a very good turret, but all oil, oil you know, and that was the best, the other turret I worked on was the in the Halifax, I forget the name of it but it had a central control like this and it wasn’t very good, you know, wasn’t so good as, you know, it was so easy and but yes alright, I get the aircrew to run the engine, they were all good lads, we were all lads together, you know, there was no quibbling, I mean, I’ve been down in Lincoln and one of the officers sitting in the bus, pat me on the back, oh God, he said, now the drink we get in town, it was just like that, you know, and I’m a young lad, he’s an officer and he’s talking to me, I’m so [unclear] [laughs] but yeah, the comradeship, that was [unclear] about the services and the army the same I suppose, but in the Royal Air Force the comradeship was unbelievable, I mean, I went down to Metheringham in, I think it was number 9 Squadron, used to be down, I’m not sure now and al goes in it and the curator in this museum he’s in it and he says, you know, this be about, he showed this bit about a DVD about armourer, you know, yeah, I’m talking to him so, you know, as I said, you know, what rank were you? Oh yeah, I thought, he would say, you know, I was sergeant, flight sergeant, oh, he says, I was group captain, I said, you know what? I said, it’s the first time in my life without standing attention to salute you, of course, he says, sir [laughs] I said, I was in the [unclear], he said, you do a good job, he said, it was stranger when he said that, you know, and he said, group captain, [unclear] [laughs], you know yourself, ay? Group captain, oh dear, oh dear, that’s what I liked about the Christmas time, during New Years’ time down at Swinderby, in the Christmas time all yerks, we all sit down and the officers are coming round, I suppose you know it, and they serve you and you know, and he’s great, you can chat but you know it’s still officers and I remember on New Year’s Eve, be [unclear] on the naffy, we were all in there and the CO comes in as well and the adjutant and all you know, all the big nobs, they are all joining hands, you know, the Auld Lang Syne, is good fun, yeah, is all, great it was, anyway so we all go back to the bed that night, yeah, so we are getting in bed and while we are in bed, we are asleep, and the signal starts, action stations parachute, action stations parachute, bloody hell, out of bed! We had to get out of bed quick, dressed, downstairs, grab a rifle, get outside, on parade, get in the truck, taken out to the airfield, they take us out the airfield, good God, got standing, gotta guard the aircraft I’m standing there, get captured by the army, it’s a trial, the army come in they captured us [laughs] but it was just to show you right if it was, you know, but the army took part in it and it was good though but at the time you didn’t know when you heard this tannoy system going action stations parachute, oh dear, oh dear, [unclear] but oh yeah, lovely, we’ll [unclear]
IB: When you arming the aircraft, what sort of conditions were you working under, as regards thinks the weather conditions and the time that you had to turn round [unclear] to get [unclear] and back?
JH: Well, you see, I spent a lot of time at Swinderby, which was a training centre really for aircrew, so, it wasn’t as operational, so we, we weren’t supposed tied down so much, I mean, if the gunner ops is got to be, they happened really time, no doubt, [unclear] go out every morning doing a DI and every tradesman go and do their part of the job, it sometimes it was a job to get the aircrew to run the engines for you, it was just one of those things but if the weather is bad, course you still had to do it, I mean, I had to go in aircraft and it’s really freezing cold and snowing and you had to get onto the tail end of the aircraft because the RSJ on the rear turret has got a leak, I had to go out and check it, of course that’s not my job so I report it to the fitters, you know, so the fitters come and do their job but you know, you still have to go out and do your job not matter what the weather was like, you know, even [unclear], you know, it just had to be done, clear, might have to go out and clear the [unclear], clear the snow off them another thing, get snowed up you gotta clear the snow off cause, I mean, even flying at night just the same, you were still training at night, day or night, flying, I mean, some of the nights I will be awake all night flying duties, I‘ll have to go out at six and go out there, wait there, wait till the aircraft took off, then I could lay down fall and get some sleep till they come back or come back for a leak or something, you know, which we had to go out and check and let’s see, I all day, the aircrew, luckily night flying duties I’d go to the mess and get a good supper you know normally you wouldn’t laugh but I mean when we had an ordinary and supper at the mess I mean you wouldn’t get eggs and things like that but if it is a night flying duty the crew, they would get eggs, we get them as well, yeah, luckily. Weren’t supposed to be, go them, anyway. What else got there then?
IB: We talked a little bit earlier of how your thoughts and feelings about the fact that you were loading bombs onto an airplane so that it could potentially go and kill people
JH: Yeah.
IB: What were your thoughts and feelings about that at the time?
JH: At the time, I thought it was a good thing, I thought, well, we are doing a good job here, you know, East Kirkby, we are putting the bombs up, they are gonna go out, get killed, thousands of Germans, good, [unclear] dead Germans, good, I can’t feel that way now, I just can’t, if I people that see Germany now, same age as me, in the war just the same, [unclear] and we are all good friends, you know, and that’s how it should have been, how it should be, as I said, I went to the museum for the Holocaust, yeah, I’ve been to Norwich, Norfolk, no sorry it’s, Nottinghamshire, I went there talking to the chap who was lecturing that, I said, people don’t seem to remember that we were fighting the Nazis, not fighting the German people, we weren’t fighting the German people although that’s what he was, it was getting over to so when I was young during the war I we are fighting the German people but we weren’t, we were fighting the Nazi regime not the people and that’s, that is what I feel now but then it was good, I think, we’re killing them, let’s kill some more, kill them all, is nothing bad like the dead Germans yeah, so, you know, to look at life like that, but I was nineteen, twenty then but I’m ninety four now, I can’t feel that way, you know, as I say, you to think that I put a bomb up to think now that bomb I put up there young children, babies maybe, completely innocent, I’ve helped to kill them, I’ve helped, not killed, I’ve helped to do it, the aircrew not their fault, not even the aircrew, they were ordered to do it, they’ve got to do it, they’ve got no choice about it, I’ve got no choice about it, it’s the war, I’ve been told I’ve got to do it this thing, you see, during the war years when you was in the service, I was in the Royal Air Force, yeah, and the army, navy, your life is not yours anymore, it belongs to the, the country that you live in, it’s your life belongs to them now, not you, you’re just a tool, you’re absolute tool, someone pulling the strings, [unclear] I’m told, that’s terrible, four years terrible, God, go ley, [unclear] I don’t know,
IB: At the end of your time in the RAF, were you demobbed at the end of the war, you stayed [unclear]?
JH: No, no, I didn’t want to stay, no, I actually I was sent to Birmingham after I was, you know, that’s it, don’t want armourers no more so I sent down to [unclear] in London they sent me back up to Birmingham, when I get there I’m told, go to the police and I, [unclear] and I went to the police so I went to the police, can you see, yeah, ok.
US: He’s coming.
JH: Yeah, I went to the police and of course
[tape stopped]
JH: My demobbed number was number 42 and I was up at Birmingham at the time and as a recruiting officer, I wasn’t officer but that’s why they called a recruiting officer, you know, the people want to come in and join the Royal Air Force I would interview them, ask them questions, if they failed, turned down the army, and you picked the best Royal Air Force you sent them in to see the officer and why, my number’s coming up next, I’ll be out, when the DROs come up next month be deferred, put back and I was dying to get out and I went in the office and I told him, I feel like deserting, he said, get me victory House in London, get me, he did mention a name at [unclear], I said I wasn’t quite sure of that so I had to ring up Victory House, you got to find Victory House, they called me back in the office, get your kit packed tonight, he said, I got you posted down to [unclear] so I got posted to Hall line Acton where I was, you know, recruiting now, it was great, was [unclear] every night lovely so it was like being home but I finally got demobbed from there but then, can I go to bed Rita? But it was there, when I was at Swinderby and used to come down to Lincoln, we got into the castle, look at the old Victorian prison they opened, we would go in there, so me and my mate goes in there, there’s two girls in there, we chat [unclear] very young men, naturally, talked to them and this girl spoke to them, her name is Rita so I went [unclear] took me to her so can I see you again? She says, yeah, so we arranged to see her again and what I should do when I was back in camp, I’ll bring her up cause she can I speak to Ms. Rita Chapman, please? Yeah, so she put me through, she come on phone and I am off duty, can I come down and see you? Yeah, come then, so go down there and we used to come down and we had a good friendship, it was platonic, it was a true, honest friendship, nothing more and nothing less and we used to go out cycling in the country [unclear] we enjoyed that companionship and eventually I got posted away so back down to [unclear] from there I got demobbed and when I was, I [unclear] uniform so I took it out, put this photo in a letter, wrote on it to this girl Rita Chapman, put the letter, this is my photograph and I want you to look after it for me, so I posted it to her, war’s over, I’m out. Fifty seven years later, I might be, my daughter’s mother died, Gladys she died, and we used to go out and [unclear] and I come up once for me and I went down to the Brayford Pool in a pub, William the Fourth, and talked to the lady who was chef here, she was clearing when I was outside, I said, you’re wasted, you’re alright, I said, used to be with the Royal Air Force during and told about this young girl I met Rita Chapman, she said, what a lovely story, she said, why not tell it to the Lincolnshire Echo and read it, she said, promise you, I promise so I went over there, I saw this report apparently he is well known, [unclear] and I forget his name now, his real name, name Pete something, and I went to see him, I said, I don’t know why and that’s it so that weekend I go back home and on a Monday on that weekend when I get back home, the phone rings, I picked the phone up, so a voice said, is that Mr. Hanks? I said, yes, speaking. So she said, this is Rita and I know it wasn’t my daughter Rita, is there any other Rita I knew? And it was this Rita Chapman and we met then after that, I came up here and we were married in 2010, won’t we? We got married. And I’ve been here ever since but I lost her unfortunately in ’13, bloody cancer again, but we had ten, eleven years, wonderful, and you see, my daughter’s name when I got back home we had a son, my son was born in 1947 and he was named Raymond, his photo’s up there now, he’s dead now, anyway and we had a girl, and my wife said, what shall we name her, baby girl? So I thought, I said, name her Rita and I say, let’s call her Rita, don’t ask me why and I said the reason I gave her the name is I didn’t know of anybody else so honest and true and trustworthy as this girl Rita Chapman because there nothing ever went wrong between us, nothing, she was a good companion and I must admit she was a good companion to me cause when you’re living with blokes all the time it’s nice to speak to a female and that’s how I named my daughter Rita, that’s how she got her name when she rang up she says it’s Rita [unclear] and that’s the part, you know, great but you know I thought she did listen and she said, cause everywhere we went, Rita would tell everybody, I think Rita in fact she was on the TV, they took us down to the studio, I forget where it is now, it was on the news, and they interviewed us down on the TV so Lincoln, all Lincoln knows about, I think so, must do, she tells, everybody she met, she would tell her this story about how we met no matter who it was she’d tell, now I’m telling you, she would have told you right [laughs].
IB: Tells us a little bit about your life after demob, and how they treated you and how you [unclear] about it?
JH: I was demobbed, at the time I was pleased to get out, I was pleased to get out, naturally. I went back to work in me old job, I was a metal polisher, and I was polishing for chrome plating, you know anything to do with chrome plating, if it was a bumper bar for a car or car handles, anything that was chrome plated, we were polishing the metal ready for plating and I for quite a number of years dropped and changed but in them days I could pack up me job and say to the manager, I’m going at twelve o’clock, it’s elven o’clock, hour, one hour, [unclear] walked down the road, go and get another job, not like it’s today, I mean, I ‘ve been in and out jobs, packing up here, go down the road, go in there, go somewhere else, all the time, all the time, [unclear] I mean, once I was working away, I just come back and it was the worst ever, you come back, you gotta go to work, and this chap, [unclear] at me, he said, oh, you’ll have to work till half past seven tonight, so I’m not, said, you’re after, I’m not, so I’m packing up, that was it, so I packed up, I wouldn’t gonna work, I was, I must admit, I wasn’t workaholic, I worked till six o’clock, that’s it, I finished, I’d do no more, enough, so anybody says me you work, you know, I’m not, you don’t tell me how I’m gonna work, I tell you when I’m gonna work, so that’s it, I worked till six o’clock and I finished, go home then, that’s alright, I’ve always been, and of course later on in the years, me and my mate we joined together, we made a little company of our own, we were self-employed and we were known as T&H metal polishers in London and we’d done quite well, we done good work and we done very well, earning good money, no problem at all, never had any problems, until time came to retire I said, I’ve had enough so I pack and I gave it up, I could have gone on big business, but I wasn’t workaholic, I’m afraid not, our life is more important than money, you know, you got to have money to live earn enough but that’s it, then enjoy yourself, enjoy life, not there forever, but I think life treated me pretty well, actually I mean, I’ve been quite satisfied by my life, I mean, I did have cancer in the bowels, bowel cancer once but it was in the colon so I was did chop it out and that was it but I mean , I was lucky [unclear] I’ve met, I felt I’ve been lucky all me life, I can’t think of any bad luck, only, sometimes things are going wrong, then they go right, no stay wrong, gone right, I fell as if I’ve been very, very, very lucky, I went through the whole war and never even cut me finger, so I mean, look at some of the things that some people have to go through, illnesses, you know, or [unclear] or trouble galore. But never, I can’t grable, satisfies with me life, don’t ask for any more, health, happiness, nothing more, nothing less.
IB: What do you feel is now about your service days and?
JH: Looking back over the years of me service days, I enjoyed me service days not the reason for me service days, the war, not that but being in service, I, the service days were enjoyable, comradeship, friendship, you know, you couldn’t ask for more, you live in a barrack room full of fellows, you don’t argue, you know, you talk to each other, you know, you grab in the naffy your cup of tea, buy a beer or go out with them and, you know, you just, that was a part, that was a good part about, I enjoyed that part very much, that was the sad part when you had to leave it behind, really, it was only after I got out, that I began to feel sorry, I was dying to get out but then when the time came, I came out [unclear] I could have gone, could have stayed on obviously but I didn’t want to stay on, they were offering it to you, you could stay on to give you so much money, I forget what it was now, but I didn’t want to stay on but then after I got back, you know, got back into reality, you are working for a living, and you had to work hard, all my life as a polisher, I’ve always been, you got a price for a job, you got a job, you gotta polish it, you get payed for the price that job, you gotta use, you know, your brain, you gotta find the quickest way to do the job, and do it the right way, quality, it’s quality first, obviously, but you gotta give them the quality and you gotta give it to them as quick as you possibly can, the quicker you do it, the more money you can earn. So that was peaceful, I’ve done it all my life peaceful and that was tight, sometimes you get a job for polishing and it was tricky, very tricky and some of the jobs could have been dangerous, trying to polish it where you could get caught up in the tool and you cut your fingers off or God knows what, you know, that sometimes could be a bit dodgy, sometimes you get a job really easy when I first went back to it after the war, I went down, back to me old job, and we was doing [unclear] lighters at the time, and we was in them days when I was gonna back to work and I’d [unclear] the RAF and said to the people in the recruiting centre, I earned eight pound a week, eight pound, they laughed at me, eight pound a week cause in them days I a lot of money, I did a lot of money, but when I started work back on Ronson lighters twenty one pound a week for a while but then of course Ronson decided, you know, I’m not gonna pay this much money so my governors said, we not gonna pay that money to get the [unclear] down and so me and me mates said, right that’s it, we’re gonna go on strike, so we did, we didn’t go to work, what happened? We got sacked [laughs]. Got sacked, but there you are, there it goes, I mean, we should have said, well, yeah, I mean, if a good wage was eight pounds a week, to earn twenty one is a bad [laughs] yeah I excepted it but we didn’t wanna except that so he said, right, you’re out, that was it, out, and then, in them days they could do that, you know, they wanted to sack you, they could sack you, they can’t now, can’t they? Isn’t it? Some good jobs. [file missing]
IB: Ok.
JH: When do we start off again?
IB: Any thoughts about the things that you saw, any experience that has left? Lasting impression?
JH: Yes, Swinderby, I forget how many crashes I saw there actually but there was one I remember that came down just off the airfield in front of a cottage and I had to go out there after the rest of the had cleared the stuff away to get and check on the armour equipment that need to come out and inside the aircraft, what were the remains of the aircraft, there seemed to be the scalp of the pilot hanging on the control column, you know, his scalp and shoes on the ground that had come off the aircrew’s feet obviously so they must have taken the bodies away and left the bits and pieces, I checked things out that you know and [unclear] alright to do except I had to go to the burial of at least one of the crew, I’m not sure, but I had to go to a burial at a church at and, I forget where it is now, just outside of Swinderby, Bassingham or Disney, I’m not sure, there’s a church there, and I’ve the escort, part of the escort the coffin in for burial in the ground, it’s still up there and very often I go up there and I do walk up and down and pay my respects, you know, read and make sure that the there’s some there that occurred after I’d gone or before I arrived but there are some there that when I was there so will be the crew that I probably escorted into the burial ground and I do often go up there and pay my respects, you know, I think it’s best, you know nice to do, I think it’s nice, it takes you back in the years and you can relive the old times and you think about the old times and the comradeship, that’s the point the comradeship, you see, and it was, actually is a photo up there, up the top there, on the left is, one of the, can you see it? Is one up there which the guard room and next is [unclear] down the tab and the one on the right hand side is the SHQ headquarters at Swinderby, they’re not there now, they’ve taken away, it’s all gone now but that’s, but it’s nice, to, I often drive up there, just for the sake of reliving memories, go up there and I told you about and I stood there, I parked the car, sitting there and in the park on the runway and I the airfield would be the dispersal and this is where I’m sitting in the car and I remember bringing the aircrew, the aircraft through here, cross this road [alarm goes off]



Ian Boole, “Interview with John Hanks,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed March 1, 2024,

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