Interview with John Holtham


Interview with John Holtham


At the age of 15 he ran away from home, lied about his age, and joined the British Army. In 1917 he joined the Royal Flying Corps and qualified as a pilot and volunteered to join the Royal Naval Air Service. When the Second World War broke out, he joined the Royal Air Force and spent time as the senior training officer at RAF Great Yarmouth. In 1941 John joined the Air Training Corps and the following year he was offered a place on the RAF university entrance scheme for six months. He then went to Oxford to read history and do RAF training. After six months he was able to re-join the RAF, ad went to Canada for a navigation course. He and a friend volunteered to go to an Operational Training Unit in Nova Scotia where they were paired with their pilots and did an eight-week course on Mosquitos. After another Operational Training Unit in Shropshire they were posted to France, where they joined 487 Squadron. When the war ended John went back to New Zealand and transferred to 139 Squadron. His next postings in 1946 were to Nuremberg where he was involved in the trials. In 1947 he was discharged and went back to university. John got married in 1951 and re-joined the Air Force in a teaching capacity.




Temporal Coverage





00:27:33 audio recording


IBCC Digital Archive


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit and






Julian Maslin, “Interview with John Holtham,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 1, 2022,

Item Relations

This item has no relations.