Interview with Janet Hughes. Two

Title

Interview with Janet Hughes. Two

Description

After flying as a spare, Reginald Wilson (Hughes’ father) formed a new crew and completed their first operation to Berlin on the 29th December 1943. During their second operation to Berlin on the 20th of January 1944, the aircraft was shot down. Upon baling out, Wilson was captured and became a prisoner of war at Stalag 4B. Despite Wilson’s initial reluctance to open up about his wartime experience, Hughes describes the process of researching and publishing a book together. She recounts their discoveries including the fate of his crew (George Griffiths, Kenneth Stanbridge, Erich Church, Johnny Bushell, Laurie Underwood, Charles Dupueis) and the excavation of the crash site which resulted in the burial of John Bremner in 2008.

Creator

Date

2017-11-23

Temporal Coverage

Language

Type

Format

01:28:18 audio recording

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

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This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Identifier

AHughesJ171123

Transcription

DM: This interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Centre, the interviewer is David Meanwell, the interviewee is Janet Hughes. The interview is taking place at Mrs Hughes’ home in Farnham in Surrey on the 23rd of November 2017, and is the second interview with Mrs Hughes. If we could perhaps pick up from where we left off, where they’re now continuing to fly as spare bods without a settled crew?
JH: Ok. Well, a month elapsed, (I don’t know quite why that was for operational reasons,) since the previous flight, and dad’s next operation as a spare was mine laying, which I think was fairly uneventful, that was on the 11th of November 1943, which coincidentally is seventy-three years before his death. The next one was a trip to Mannheim and Ludwigshafen; this was one of the diversionary raids which were organised to- As a decoy to deflect the German attention from the main target which was Berlin. So, they did it hoping that the, the fighters would think that was the main raid and therefore the less- Berlin would be less heavily defended. The next one, on the 22nd of November was a very big one, very famous raid, it was the second of the battles collectively known as the Battle of Berlin. It was the third heaviest of the entire war, and also the most successful, because there was considerable damage to industry and munitions factories, in particular. An interesting point of that raid from my point of view, as Reg’s daughter, is that the Kaiser Wilhelm church in the centre of Berlin was badly damaged. Now the Kaiser Wilhem Gedächtniskirche was a, a two-towered cathedral-like church in the centre of Berlin with many precious artefacts and, and paintings, and it was almost completely destroyed, and it was big landmark and still is a big landmark, was one of the iconic landmarks of Berlin that you think of when you think of Berlin. After the war the decision was made to keep the ruins as a reminder of the destruction of war, and the, and the, and the heartache that it causes and a brand new cathedral was erected by its side, not in any way trying to replicate the original church ‘cause it’s very modern and I think the tower is- Well certainly I think the main church is hexagonal and its very sort of geometrical- Looks like a hat box, and it’s entirely glazed with glass which I believe was a gift from Chatres in France as a sort of piece thing, and it’s very predominantly blue, and when you sit in the modern church you kind of have a sense- Almost a sensation of being underwater. It’s very beautiful, I mean it’s very stark in many ways ‘cause it’s very modern but it’s also very beautiful, and like Coventry Cathedral it sits aside the, the, the original church. One little point of interest here is that in 2005, when we were back on a, on a research visit to Berlin (about which, more later,) I asked my father what he wanted to see, you know, what he wanted to visit in Berlin ‘cause we’d- I was teaching at the time and it was half term, we didn’t have very long. So, I said, ‘Look, you know, we’ve got a couple of days, what are your priorities?’ and straight away he identified that church as a priority which surprised me ‘cause he wasn’t in any sense a religious man, and when I- I said to him, well, you know, ‘Why do you want to see that, do you want to see the outside or do you want to go inside?’, ‘No, I want to go inside,’ and when we got there, I’d seen it before ‘cause I’ve been to Berlin many, many times and dad just sat there for- with my mum, for quite a long time just, you know, staring into space seemingly, and the significance of it wasn’t lost on me because it was a church which theoretically, he could’ve bombed personally, because he was on that raid and I think he was making his peace. He never said so, but I think that’s what was going on. Anyway, dad’s plane on the mission of the 22nd of November, (that particular bombing raid,) dad’s plane was unscathed but it did have a near miss on the way back to Pocklington in Yorkshire, when two other planes that were very close to dad’s plane, collided on their attempt to land, and with the loss of all lives of both crews. So, you know, you could, you could return from a hair-raising trip like that and then get killed over, over the Yorkshire countryside on your way home, that was, that was the lottery of bomber command. So, three days later dad did another trip to Frankfurt, on the 25th, which I don’t think was a particularly eventful trip, but then they were called again [emphasis], the following night and pepped up with caffeine and pink gins on the 26th of November. That was another diversionary raid, because the main bomber thrust was going to Berlin. So that’s the 22nd, the 25th, and the 26th, so what kind of physical and mental state they must’ve been after three raids in four nights I cannot imagine. Dad was due to do another flight as a spare and I think this must’ve been shortly afterwards although the date isn’t specified in his, in his notes, and that one was aborted because the plane on which he was flying as a spare taxied into mud, and was unable to take off, and dad was quite relieved about that because I think he, he just didn’t have any confidence in, in the crews that he was flying with as a spare. That turned out to be the last mission that he flew with as a spare ‘cause not long afterwards they crewed up again. December ‘43 was quite a quiet month, that’s because there was a full moon, now earlier in the war when there was a full moon, they all used to think, ‘Oh good,’ you know, ‘We’ve got good visibility,’ and it was even known as a bomber’s moon. But as the German defences improved, they learnt that it was not a clever idea to fly when there was a full moon because not only could they see very much more easily, but they could also be seen, and there were quite a lot of occasions when they entire bomber stream was, was identified early on by the, the flak and the night fighters with catastrophic results, so, you know, they basically learnt not to, not to fly on those nights. Also, during December there was a period of poor weather, of other kinds that, that made flying not a good idea. So, they’d gone sort of quite a long time before they were crewed up. Now, the final crew, and this is important because this was, this was my dad’s, you know- This is the crew that I’m still in touch with, or at least I’m in touch with the second generation, because my late father was the last member of this crew alive, and he died a year ago. So, the full crew was- The pilot was Flight Officer George Griffiths DFM, he was on his second tour so he was a very experienced pilot. There was a second dickie pilot, with them. Now, second dickie pilots were those who’d completed their training but who flew as spares in the sense that they were observers, and I think they had to do two of these before they were allowed to, to command their own crew. So, the second dickie pilot, (who as the eighth member of what would normally be a seven-man crew,) was Sergeant Kenneth Stanbridge. Then there was the flight engineer, Sergeant John Bremner who had done previous ops, the wireless operator, Eric Church, who was a flight sergeant, he had done previous ops, and the mid-upper gunner, Flight Sergeant Charles Dupueis, who was a Canadian. It says in dad’s notes that he was a French Canadian but I’ve, in- Since I’ve published the book, I’ve been in touch through Facebook with relatives and it turns out that he, he wasn’t a French speaker at all, and that also perhaps accounts for the misspelling of the surname, because it’s not the conventional spelling of Dupueis, and I think if there was French blood it was obviously several generations back because he wasn’t a French speaker. Dad found it surprising that now these five people had, had been teamed up for that night’s operations, (and theoretically for future operations with the exception of Stanbridge,) with the original crew, (or the remains of the original crew that is, Johnny Bushell the rear gunner, Laurie Underwood the bomb aimer, and my father the, the navigator,) you, you would’ve expected that a new crew would’ve been given time to gel and would’ve been sent on some training flights, or some reconnaissance flights or something before they were sent off on an impotent mission. But that was not to be, and on the 29th of December, which again was the third anniversary to the night of the bombing raid on the city of London which provided my father’s inspiration to join the RAF in the first place, that’s the famous raid with the, iconic picture of St Pauls with everything around it in ruins, and this was exactly three years to the night from that raid and my dad was bombing Berlin, you know, getting them, getting. them back if you like. Although, he was not a vindictive man, it’s somewhat of an irony that three years later he was bombing Berlin. So, it was the eighth raid on Berlin by the RAF, it was the fifth heaviest, seven-hundred-and-twelve aircraft took part, two-thousand-three-hundred-and-twelve tonnes of incendiaries and high explosives were dropped in twenty minutes. From dad’s point of view, it was uneventful, from the point of view of not being shot at. He remembers seeing the Zuiderzee on the radar screen, using H2S on the way out. Bad weather had restricted the German night fighters to sixty-six, but due to two spoof raids by RAF Mosquitos the night fighters reached Berlin too late to be effective and this, this contributed to the success of the raid, in terms of the damage that it caused. They dropped their bombs from seventeen-and-a-half-thousand feet, on the target indicators but they couldn’t see whether or not they’d caused any damage. Sometimes you get these photographs where you can actually see the, the fires. That was due to the fact that there was ten-tenths cloud cover. The overall losses that night were only two-point-eight percent, which is lower than many of the other Berlin raids, but 102 Squadron, dad’s squadron, yet again managed to beat the average with two aircraft missing, and on one of the aircraft that was shot down, one of the crew members was named Harold Par, and he was on his first op, and he later became a POW in the same camp as my father, (Stalag 4B) and he was in the same hut as my father, and about- Let me think, this would be about twenty years later, he was living in Chigwell in Essex, and his son was in the same class at Buckhurst Hill Boys Grammar School as my brother. So, my brother and Howard, (who was Harold’s son) became good friends and when, their fathers met, (so that’s my father and, and Howard’s father,) they realised that they’d been in the same POW hut, and in the same squadron, and on the same raid. So that’s, that's a pretty good set of coincidences, such is life. So, we move into 1944, and January ‘44 began as another month of inactivity, bad weather, another full moon, and the combination of these two events meant that there was a reluctance to send Halifax Mk 2’s to Berlin because they were being recognised by then as increasingly vulnerable, and in many squadrons they were already being replaced by the Mk 3’s which were less vulnerable. However, another maximum effort to attack Berlin was required, so dad’s second operation with the full crew including the second dickie pilot, Stanbridge, was scheduled for the 20th of January 1944. This was six days before my father’s twenty-first birthday, so he’s twenty. So, dad was responsible- was one of the four navigators operating HS2, sorry H2S, (get it confused with the railway) H2S equipment in 4 Group. 4 Group comprised fifteen squadrons, totalling between two-hundred-and-fifty and three-hundred aircraft. Dad had to radio interview- intervals his calculated wind velocities back to Group, to 4 Group, and they would average the readings from the four navigators and rebroadcast them to the whole of 4 Group to, enable them to concentrate the bomber stream. Dad was also due to do his own blind bombing that night. Now blind bombing means, when they weren’t bombing on pathfinder markers using H2S, to identify the homing point, for a timed run. Now they only gave this to navigators with a good track record obviously because most of the others would, would follow the pathfinder markers. So, dad was effectively a pathfinder. The bombing raid was to be the ninth raid on Berlin, and the fourth heaviest. Seven-hundred-and-sixty-nine aircraft took part, two-thousand-four-hundred tonnes of incendiary and high explosive bombs were dropped in twenty minutes. It was considered to have been successful, although less concentrated than planned, and perhaps less successful than the one in December, (which I mentioned earlier). Due to bad weather again over Germany the night fighters were limited to nighty-eight but they were experienced crews, and they were equipped with something called Schräge Musik which is- It means jazz, jazz music. That was code for upward-firing canon, radar interception and critically H2S homing devices, and I think at this stage, they weren’t- They didn’t realise that the night fighters could home in on the H2S. It was a kind of cat and mouse scenario with the technology because each side would produce something new and then the other side would find a way to disable it, and so if you happened to be in the period where they just learnt how to intercept your new piece of technology and you didn’t know, it would make you very vulnerable. The night fighters, which were all twin engined were operating a new technique called tame boar. This meant they were directed by ground control into the bomber stream at intervals and over the target, and after this they were on their own really, they could fly freelance and use their own equipment to seek out bombers, fly beneath them out of sight of the gunners and fire cannon shells into the petrol laden wings, completely invisible. Additionally, on this night thin cloud covering Berlin with tops about twelve-thousand feet was illuminated from below by many searchlights, so it’s, you know- It meant that they were effectively backlit, and the night fighters flying about the bomber stream could, could locate them, silhouetted against the bright backcloth, like back projection. So despite their limitations of night fighters, it was a highly successful night for them. They claimed thirty-three victories, nine of them over Berlin, out of the thirty-five bombers lost that night. So presumably the other two were flak but it meant that the night fighters had a fiesta, and in fact, there is some footage on YouTube from a, a German propaganda film (bit like Pathé news) which features the pilot responsible for the demise of five aircraft that night, and I’ll come back to him later. So, preparations; dad’s plane LW 337 Halifax Mk 2 Series IA took off at sixteen-thirty-hours GMT, in, in the- The plane was, (as I’ve just said LW 337) was nicknamed Old Flo by the ground crew, something to do with the red- With the, with the numbers that were painted on the side, and they were soon flying above the ten tenths cloud. So first they used Gee, radar, and then H2S to map read. They flew uninterrupted on a northerly route into Germany turning south east sixty miles from Berlin. Berlin is a large city and there were too many stray reflections on the H2S screen to be able to identify the target position. Dad was instructed personally at the navigators briefing in Pocklington to identify a turning point. Taking a precise bearing, and distance on his screen of a small town (doesn’t name it) about ten miles north of Berlin and that was the commencement of a timed bombing run to the target which was Hitler’s chancery, and they flew in straight and level at eighteen-thousand feet, maintaining a pre-calculated track and groundspeed at the time set by stopwatches, and they dropped their bombs at twenty-hundred hours, GMT. Unfortunately, this procedure made them a sitting target for the night fighters because they’d hardly closed their bomb doors when they were hit by one of these aircraft. We had- They had trailed behind, (this is the night fighters, this particular one) had trailed behind and below dad’s plane waiting for the bombs to be released, obviously they didn’t want to be shooting at you before then ‘cause they might get in the way of the bombs, and then they fired the cannon shells upward into the starboard wing, where there were more than a thousand gallons of petrol still aboard. A lot of petrol obviously needed for the return trip, so two-thousand gallons to start with, and if you got them over the target, half of that was still in the tanks, and it was only seconds before the whole wing caught fire. Dad can remember Griff (the pilot George Griffiths) shouting, ‘Graviners engineer.’ The graviners were switches used to activate the fire extinguishers for the engines, but it was to no avail and the blaze was so fierce that Griff realised that the aircraft was stricken, that there was nothing he could do, and so he immediately called, ‘Parachute, parachute, bail out’. Now dad was already wearing his parachute (I think in an earlier interview I explained that after a near miss he used to put it on over the target and pull up his navigation seat to facilitate quick access to the escape hatch) and so, he lifted the escape hatch door and dropped it diagonally through the hatch itself, but it caught in the slip stream and jammed half in and half out. With dad’s efforts combined with those of the wireless operator Eric Church and Laurie Underwood, the bomb aimer, they did manage to kick the door clean. So, he- Dad sat on the edge of the escape hatch and dropped through immediately, followed closely by Laurie. This was truly a leap of faith, a leap into the dark with fingers and toes crossed. They had no idea what would happen next. They were surrounded by flak, searchlights, well-illuminated, very vulnerable. The wireless operator had no time to follow them, although he’d helped to kick out the escape hatch, he perished with the plane. Dad believes that after Laurie dropped out the blazing aircraft went out of control and into a spiral dive. So, dad and Laurie bailed out at seventeen-thousand feet. Dad spun over a few times and then pulled the ripcord. The canopy opened, and when the harness tightens around his crotch (this is in his own notes) he said it brought him to his senses in double quick time. Sure all the men amongst you can understand why that might be. Below him and to his left he could see another parachute and to this day he doesn’t know whether it was Laurie’s or not but, obviously we know that Laurie survived, and Dad and Laurie didn’t actually see each other again until Laurie’s wedding after the war, in June 1945. So, dad was floating on a layer of light cloud, or over, over a layer of light cloud I should say, and he could see the glow of the fires beneath it with heavy flak, tracer shells, hose piping around in the sky, and he floated down for ten to fifteen minutes, which is incredible when you think of being that vulnerable for a whole ten to fifteen minutes, it’s quite unthinkable. He said he didn’t feel cold, doesn’t remember feeling cold, although at the altitude when he, where he bailed out it would’ve been about minus thirty-four Celsius. There was a sixty mile-an-hour northerly wind prevailing, and this was, you know, 20th of January so, pretty damn cold. But because of the wind he drifted away from the centre of the city which, which might well of saved his life, because he was out of the hot spot so to speak. His, his sensations were of silence. The deafening noise from the aircrafts engine which was present all the time during the night, during the flight, had gone, and once he’d blown away from the target, the sound of the flak had died away too, so there’s this uncanny silence, and blackness as he descended through the cloud, and as he got near the ground, he thought he was gonna land in marshes because in the light that was available it looked like marshland. So, he thought he was gonna need his Mae West life jacket. So, as he, as he got closer it- He realised that what he could see beneath him wasn’t actually marshland but a canape of trees in a small wood, that turned out to be a southern suburb of Berlin. So, he crashed through the trees, fell the last fifteen feet and his injuries amounted to a grazed face and a sprained ankle. Remarkable that these were the only injuries he sustained. So, in fewer than twenty minutes his life had gone through a dramatic change. He survived by a hair's breadth, a mix of emotions, elated at being alive but then what of his crew? He had no idea whether any of them had survived. He thought about his family, and how they would suffer when they were informed by telegram the next morning that he was missing. A few hours beforehand he’d been eating egg and bacon (only available before operational flights) in the mess at Pocklington with his aircrew colleagues all around him, laughing and joking. The friendly town of York, twelve miles away, and imminent home leave to get his officer's kit. Well, that wasn’t going to happen now. He was in hostile Germany, in south eastern suburbs, he wondered what would happen if he were caught by civilians, having just bombed their city. Nobody here would care whether he lived or died. It was the depths of winter, he was in enemy territory six-hundred miles from home, and on him he had some French francs (they weren’t going to be much use), a handkerchief with a map of France printed on it (equally useless), and a magnetic trouser button with a white spot on it, which when cut off the flies and balanced on a pencil point would point north, so that’s his compass, high tech. Oh, and a tin of Horlicks tablets, which was all he had to sustain him while he evaded capture and made his way back to England. He was still in his flight sergeants' uniform, in spite of having been commissioned on the 1st of December, nearly two months previously, and he was five days away from his twenty-first birthday. So, he walked because he had nothing, there’s nothing else he could do, and about eight hours later he disturbed a dog while trying to hide in a barn, and at this point he was captured by the civilian police. What had happened to the crew? Well, we now know that Laurie had blacked out during part of his parachute drop, but landed uninjured and he was captured by the military. Also, something that dad didn’t know till later only four of the crew of eight came through the ordeal. So, the two survivors that we, we suspected were dad and Laurie, the one who followed him out through the escape hatch. The other two survivors had an even more miraculous escape because Griff, the pilot, and Johnny really, just, just benefitted from extraordinary good luck. Because after Laurie and dad had bailed out, the aircraft had gone into a spiral dive and Griff, the pilot, was thrown forward onto the controls and he was held in his seat by the, the g-force of the spiral dive and he saw the altimeter (this is in his own notes which I also have), he saw the altimeter unwind past seven-thousand feet, and basically wondered how long before the end came, and at that point he lost consciousness, trapped in, in the cockpit. Dad believes that the petrol tanks exploded, ‘cause there’s no other explanation, there was no escape hatch, and Griff was blown out and he had his parachute on, at some point he must’ve put that on, and he regained consciousness just in time to pull the rip cord, a couple of hundred feet from the ground, and he knows this because his parachute was still swinging like a pendulum when he landed. What normally happens is it swings like a pendulum and then eventually reaches equilibrium and then you go down straight, but he was still swinging, so, you know, it must’ve been a matter of minutes, maybe seconds since it opened, and he thumped down among debris from the aircraft on waste ground, in Berlin, quite a long way from dad ‘cause, you know, they didn’t obviously get out at the same time and the aircraft continued to travel. He was uninjured but in shock, he wrapped himself up in the parachute and went to sleep under a bush, and he was discovered the next morning by a party of civilians, led by a soldier. Now Johnny the rear gunner, he was thrown over his guns during the spiral dive and also lost consciousness and he came to in the air. So, he must’ve been blown out as well. In similar circumstances to Griff, he opened his parachute near the ground but he landed close to a searchlight battery and so he was captured immediately, so there was no delay as there was with dad and the other two. He had a bad cut over his right eye and a bruised face but otherwise was alright, and one thing that dad always stressed was that the four crew who were killed were those who were, were new to them. He believes that the bond that he and- Certainly that he and Laurie and Johnny had had, had somehow kept them safe. The wireless operator- So of the four who perished, the wireless operator and the co-pilot were eventually buried in the British war cemetery in Charlottenburg in, in Berlin, having previously been buried just, you know, where, where there was a space. So, one was buried in, I think in Spandau and the other one was taken to a civilian graveyard about fifty miles east, ‘cause basically they just had to put them where they had spaces, and then later they were, they were exhumed and buried in the war cemetery. An interesting point is that when Griff, the pilot, was asked by the German military, ‘Tell us the name of your wireless operator, so that we can bury him with a name’. So, you know, I expect, Griff must’ve thought well, you know, ‘should I give them this information?’ But otherwise, he would’ve been buried, you know, in an unmarked grave, and because of Griff he, his name was on his grave. Now the flight engineer, and the mid-upper gunner were neither found, nor identified, and having no known graves, they were remembered only on the war memorial at Runnymede. Another point, the mid upper gunner (the, the Canadian, Dupueis) he’d avoided an assignment to Berlin on his thirteenth operation because he’d been, he’d been drafted to a comparatively safe mission instead and so, the one to Berlin turned out to be his fourteenth operation but it turned out to be just as unlucky as thirteen. He carried a lucky rabbit's foot with him, but it didn’t help him. Another thing, the, the flight- The wireless operator, Eric Church, had taken some milk from the sergeants mess for his own use, and my father had seen this, and had criticised him, saying you know, that’s not for civilians, that’s for us. What dad didn’t know at the time was that he, he had taken the milk for his young wife who was living near Pocklington and who was expecting a baby, and, my dad was destined to meet that baby later on in 2008. He lives just outside Southhampton and I am in fairly regular contact with him, so that's a nice little story. After the war, dad realised that not only was the 20th of January 1944 a big night for him, but it was recorded by both sides as one of unprecedented activity. Fifty years later, through the help of a German archivist, they discovered that the plane had been shot down by an ace night fighter Pilot Hauptmann Leopold Fellerer, in a twin-engine Messerschmitt Bf 110 G-4. He had forty-one victories to his credit, over the war, he was awarded the Knight’s Cross, and that night had shot down five aircraft including dad’s. He became gruppenkommandeur of the night fighter group and later became a high-ranking officer in the Austrian air force, and ironically was killed in a Cessna flying accident in 1968. In 2005 the German archivist had provided dad with a map of Berlin showing approximately where the aircraft had crashed, which was about seven miles southeast of Hitlers chancery, [unclear] and this confirms that they were on target that night as the crash point was on our track less than two minutes flying distance from the time when they’d released their bombs. So if you do all the maths you can see that they must’ve been bang on the target at eight o’ clock. So, there’s an extract here from the 102 operational record (which is held on the microfilm at the public records office in Kew) so it says, ‘Weather: foggy, clearing later. Visibility: moderate to good. Wind: southerly, 20 to 25 mph’. Sixteen aircraft were detailed to attack Berlin on what proved to be probably the most disastrous operation embarked upon by 102 Squadron. It’s- Who suffered the loss of five crews, Griffis DFM (that’s dad’s crew) Dean, Render, Wilding, Compton. Two other aircraft were lost in Britain, so one had to abandon the aircraft because they ran out of petrol and another one crashed near Norwich, and the bomb- The air bomber died of his injuries. So, seven of the sixteen aircraft from that squadron were lost that night. That’s nearly fifty-percent, and five crews were lost, and this exceptional night of misfortune was never repeated, within that squadron anyway. So that was the end of dad’s time in bomber command, so after reforming as a full crew, they’d only done two operations, and that for dad made ten in all. But in spite of that they’ll go down in the annals of 102 Squadron as having been shot down on the night when the squadron suffered the loss of seven out of sixteen operation aircraft, or forty-four-percent of the planes that flew that night, and that’s a loss which is greater than any other operation in the squadron’s history in both World Wars. Dad also appended that 102 Squadron was not a lucky squadron. After that disastrous night another four aircraft were lost the following night to Magdeburg, so that was 21st of January, and shortly after this as the losses continued, they were stood down. Too late for dad, but they were stood down from operations over Germany. So, they did, you know, perhaps mine laying and, and trips to France, but they took them off the really perilous missions, and then the Halifax Mk 2’s were withdrawn, and they were replaced the Mk 3’s, which were equal to the Lancasters in that time in their operational efficiency. But for dad’s crew the new aircraft arrived too late, otherwise they might’ve had a better chance of survival and they might’ve been able to complete at least one tour of thirty ops, and they might’ve been able to avoid ending up in captivity for the rest of the war. In the Second World War, 102 Squadron suffered the highest losses in the whole of Group 4 of bomber command (that’s fifteen squadrons) and the third highest losses in the whole of bomber command (that’s ninety-three squadrons). [Beep] So, dad said that he’d disturbed a dog and the dog drew attention to dad and a farm worker, who was waking up- It was early morning, I don’t know exactly what time but this, this farm- He was a kind of overseer and he was going round and knocking on doors of all the agricultural workers to wake them up, and he handed dad over to a couple of policemen, one of whom had a revolver and the other one had a pair of handcuffs, but they indicated to dad that, you know, they wouldn’t use any kind of restraint or violence as long as he behaved himself. So, they walked him to the police station where my dad remembers being exhibited like a trophy to the policeman’s wife. He was searched and they took all his possessions away. Interestingly, they asked him if he was Jewish. My dad could’ve been Jewish if you look at the photograph in the book, you can see that he had very dark hair and quite a prominent nose although that was because he got hit by a cricket ball when he was twelve, but, you know, they wouldn’t know that, and it makes you wonder why they wanted to know because even if he had been Jewish, as a British POW, you know, they weren’t- There was a German Jew actually in my father’s POW camp, who was incarcerated there rather than in a concentration camp because he was a British POW and therefore under the protection of the Geneva convention. Anyway, another person who interviewed him was a very attractive young woman who had perfect English and appeared with, you know, very long legs and very long hair and dad said that, you know, she definitely improved his morale. Then he- They returned, I think, his cigarettes and he offered one to the policeman and they smoked them together. I don’t- They were clearly trying to get information at this point, but they weren’t- They were very correct. I don’t, I don’t think- They might’ve been a bit smug but, but, but he certainly wasn’t ill-treated by the police, he was fortunate to have been apprehended by authority rather than civilians because it’s well known that people who were initially found by civilians, if the civilians weren’t being monitored by anybody else, they sometimes, you know, applied their own sanctions and put pitchforks through people and so on, and that apparently increased towards the end of the war. But everybody knew that you were better off being apprehended by authorities particularly, well, military rather than gestapo. Then he was given a sandwich, which was wrapped in a newspaper with a very prominent piece of propaganda on it about the American [unclear] as they called them, and he said, you know, to his dying day he didn’t know whether that was a coincidence or whether it was deliberate. It gave him something to think about. Then he was taken by car to Werneuchen (which was the night fighter station) and, on this journey he, he was driven through the, the less damaged parts of Berlin. Again, I think that was deliberate to show him, you know, you haven’t actually inflicted any damage on our city. The route was very carefully chosen. From there he was in a guard house cell and he was, interviewed by a guard, who had been a bomber pilot over London, or so he claimed, and had participated in some of the Blitz raids, and my dad apparently quipped to him, ‘Now we are quits’. These people all had pretty good English and I’m sure he understood. He remembers a meal of macaroni pudding being given to him at this point, which was the first decent meal he’d had since he was shot down several days previously, and he said it was like a feast, never have macaroni- Tasted so good. From Werneuchen he was taken by underground to Spandau, and he said this was a very frightening experience because there were several captives and I think only one guard or two guards, certainly not enough to protect them if the civilians got nasty, and this was a very, very frightening experience because, you know, he thought he was gonna get lynched at any minute and they were all spitting and gesticulating and, you know, dad said he wouldn’t, he wouldn’t of wanted to be without the protections of the guards. In Spandau they were kept in a bunker to protect them from the bombs, their own bombs. There are- There were still no sign of his crew at this point but there were lots of others and obviously they shared stories, but at any moment they didn’t know whether they were being watched or listened to, so I don’t suppose the conversations were very natural. The food was very poor, in the bunker. Then there was another incident where they took all his possessions off him and a guard offered him one of his own cigarettes. From there they went by train to Dulag Luft at Frankfurt-am-Meim. This is where they were kept in solitary confinement in cells with a straw palias and the notorious electric heater, which was not just for their comfort but also for their discomfort because the temperature was intermittently turned up to, I think one-hundred-and-twenty degrees Celsius dad said, in order to try and make them crack. Here he met the notorious ‘Red Cross representative’ (in inverted commas) who asked them for lots of personal information over and over again, weren’t aggressive, but dad would’ve been warned about these people, they weren’t really anything to do with the Red Cross and he persisted in only giving his name, rank and number. So, there he is in the cell with a cigarette, which he couldn’t light because he didn’t have any matches, and he said he remembers picking a piece of straw up out of the palias and sticking it in the fire to see if he could make it light enough to light a cigarette, but it didn’t work. The interrogators showed him pictures of things like H2S and asked him what it was for and he said, ‘I don’t know,’ and they seemed to know an awful lot about the RAF and they knew which squadrons people had come from. Dad later realised that they were able to identify- They were able to work this out from the numbers painted on the sides of the planes which they could then link with squadrons. So, you know, they, they made it seem that they knew more about you then they actually did, but it was all done, well partly to demoralise you and partly to make you think, ‘Well they know that much, it won’t hurt if I tell them some more’. On my father’s twenty-first birthday, he asked- He told them it was his twenty-first birthday and he asked them if he could have a shave, and they duly provided him with a towel and hot water, and soap and a razor, and so on, which was a nice gesture, but not really what one hopes for their twenty-first birthday present. One of the interrogators told him that 102 Squadron were ‘one of our best customers,’ which dad just thought was bravado but when he got- Later when he was looking at the statistics, he found that they were right. His astro watch was never returned to him, it was formally confiscated and he, he had a receipt for it, which we still have, you know, and he did joke when we were in Berlin that he was going to go to the authorities and say ‘Right well here’s the receipt, can I have it back?’. Some of the other possessions, not the watch, were returned to him at this point, but not the rest of the cigarettes, and not his photographs. But, at this point he did meet up with Johnny, Johnny Bushell, his rear gunner, and he was overjoyed. They had no news of any of the others but they knew that at least two of them had survived. At the Dulag transit camp they were presented with a cardboard suitcase, by the Red Cross which contained basic items of underwear, toiletries and so on, and funnily enough a pair of pyjamas. At some point there was a cartoon with a- I think this was probably something in the prison camp, who, who did a cartoon of a guy coming down, you know, in a parachute having been shot down carrying a suitcase containing a pair of pyjamas as if, you know, they’d jumped out of the plane with them. In the transit camp the food was good, because it was provided by the Red Cross, and at this point dad was also able to send a postcard home to his parents, which we still have, saying that he was safe and they, that they mustn’t worry. Obviously wasn’t able to tell them where he was, and in any case, he was still in transit, he didn’t know where he was gonna go. So, from this, this transit camp, they were transported to, the prison camp that Johnny and my father were allocated to, which was Stalag 4B. This was in a series of cattle trucks, very similar to the ones that the Jews were moved to the concentration camps, that were marked forty men and eight horses, or something like that, in French. They were obviously rolling stock that had been commandeered and been taken from France because the signage was all in French, and that was a terrible journey taking a couple of days with only a bucket to pee in, in the corner. They couldn’t sit or lie down because they were rammed in so that they had to stand up. Every now and then the train would stop and they would all have to get off and defecate next to the line. The only slight relief that they had during that time was that they were able to eat some of the contents of the Red Cross parcels, but only that which didn’t require a can opener. Now, dad’s theory at this point was that he missed Griff and Laurie at the transit camp because they’d either arrived earlier or later, probably earlier, than Johnny and, and my father, and because they were both commissioned officers and could prove it, they went to a different camp anyway, they went to Stalag Luft 3, the scene of the great escape in Sagan which is in modern day Poland, but dad because he couldn’t prove his rank, and that was a critical point, that he couldn't prove that he had just been commissioned because he went with Johnny to Stalag 4B which was not an RAF camp specifically, and there my father remained for a year, until his commission came through at which point he left Johnny behind. Which I think cut him up quite a lot because they were muckers together, which meant they were shared their rations and cooked for each other, but dad said at that point that Johnny was a very sociable type, unlike my dad actually who’s quite reserved and that dad felt sure that he would team up with some other people. Dad then went on to- Initially to a camp in Eichstätt in Bavaria which obviously was a long way away, and then towards the end of the war when everything started to fragment there was, there were a series of movements, all of which is described in great detail in my father's own words in our book, which is entitled Into the Dark: A Bomber Command Story of Combat, Survival, Discovery and Remembrance. It’s published- It was published in 2015 by Fighting High, and the authors are Janet Hughes née Wilson, myself, and Reginald Wilson, who was still alive at time of publication. [Beep]
DM: Do you have any idea how his time in Bomber Command, being shot down and later becoming a captive effected your father in later life?
JH: Well yes, I, I- My grandmother always said that he’d never been the same after the war, and yet I know other people who went through similar experiences to my father who, who, who had a more positive and optimistic view of life. So I think some of it was down to his personality. I think he as a child was a very shy little boy, he was very meticulous, he wasn’t very adventurous, he was very studious. You know, perhaps a bit reluctant to join in, that kind of thing, and a combination of that and the horrific experiences that he went through kind of shaped him forever. I, I keep meaning to ask my aunt, who’s still alive, she’s 98 now, if she’s got any recollection of, you know, her impression of how he changed when he did come back, in 1945. During the prisoner of war as a- days, as I’ve said it was a, it was a, it was a Stalag, well the first year anyway was a Stalag, they didn’t have enough to eat, they were very cold, they were quite bored a lot of the time although they did have an opportunity to study, and, you know, they, they put on musicals and that sort of thing. They weren’t badly treated really, they were just very, very hungry and cold and a lot of them succumbed to- As the place got more and more overcrowded, a lot of them succumbed to, you know, typhus and typhoid and, and TB and things like that, so certainly the people that were prisoners of war for a long time (dad really only had a year in that very bad camp) suffered more than he did. But- And then the, the second camp that he was in was, was, was much more comfortable but I think really the worst thing was the complete lack of privacy, that’s probably the worst thing of all, you know, never being able to be on your own, to do your own thing, being permanently surrounded by other people, and obviously you needed them for moral support but there must have been times when you just wanted to get away, you know, imagine going to the toilet with, with forty other people. Not even, you know, the most basic human, human functions being witnessed by thirty-nine other people. It must have been awful, and, and he was very private, always very private, you know, my parents never walked around without their clothes on, you know, like I sometimes do or, you know, they always locked the door of the bathroom and that kind of thing, and, and they were very kind of- Well that, that might’ve been a generational thing I don’t, I don’t know but I think when my dad did get home he cherished, you know, the ability to, to, to have privacy when you wanted it. When I was a child in the nineteen-sixties his mental wounds were still too raw to allow him to talk to me about his experiences. He occasionally still had horrific nightmares which I remember really clearly. They caused him to sit bold upright and scream, and I had an adjacent bedroom and I would wake up, it would be loud enough to disturb us even in the well-built house, you know, with brick walls (not like in these days, the partition walls) and I can remember, you know, going round and knocking on the bedroom door and saying, ‘Mummy what's happening,’ and she’d say, ‘Oh it’s alright, daddy’s had a bad dream, go back to sleep he’s alright now,’ and I must’ve thought, you know, that daddies had nightmares, that’s what daddies did in bed. I didn’t know any better, and I suppose I must’ve thought that it happened to all my friends’ fathers as well, I didn’t realise that dad was different, in that respect, and also, he was a bit older than a lot of my friends’ fathers because he was thirty-one when he married my mother, having been dumped by the woman who he was going out with before he got shot down, and he was thirty-two when my brother was born and thirty-five when I was born, so he was quite a lot older, probably ten years older than some of my friends’ fathers. So, by the nineteen-seventies, I was at grammar school and I was studying German. He never had any objection to me studying German, I had a choice between German and Latin, my parents let me choose what I wanted to do. I don’t ever remember him questioning my desire to learn German or thinking it was a strange thing. He, he wasn’t anti-German, he never had been, he was anti-Nazi and he always made a distinction between those two things. He had a lot of respect for the Germans actually, because they were generally very law abiding and because dad was law abiding, he liked their formality in the fact that, you know, they always did things by the book. I think that kind of had a resonance with him really. In the sixth form, when I was studying German A-Level I also, as part of the course had to study modern history, as it related to Germany since the war and, and during the division of Germany ‘cause of course at that time the wall was still up and Germany was two countries, and you know, my father who had all these amazing stories to tell, couldn’t or wouldn’t share them with me and I don’t know whether that was because he couldn’t or because he didn’t want to or just because he was so busy because he had a, he had a very prestigious career. He was eventually a management consultant with Unilever and he travelled all over the world and, you know, he worked hard and he commuted into London and to be honest he wasn’t there all that much and when he was, he wanted us out of the way, you know, so he could spend time with my mother and he travelled a lot, you know, he was sometimes away for weeks on end. So, I just thought, ‘Oh well what a shame,’ you know, he didn’t want to look at my photographs taken of Berlin in the late seventies when the wall was still up and I went there as a student. I thought he never would talk about it but I was wrong, fortunately, and it all happened on the fiftieth anniversary of D-Day. Well actually a bit before that in, in the run up to January 1994, you know, dad realised it was a big event, he’d kept in touch with the other three survivors, they sort of, you know, occasionally met up and exchanged Christmas cards and things, and they decided that for that fiftieth anniversary they would all meet up. So, they all met up (three of them had wives, Johnny had never married), and they met in a hotel in Peterborough (because it was central for all of them) to kind of, you know, reminisce and toast the fifty years of life that they’d had unexpectedly afterwards and, you know, share artefacts. The pilot by this time had started to do a bit of initial research into where the plane had come down, but he died not all that long afterwards, about four years afterwards, and he hadn’t completed this research, and, you know, the whole thing- The whole of the country was suddenly talking about the war. In the summer of 1994 there was a lot of TV coverage of the anniversary of D-Day and by then dad was, what was a he then? Seventy, seventy-one, and he was developing a growing sense of time passing and the compelling need to share his story with others and he started to talk and write about his experiences. He’d always wanted to find out where his plane had crashed and having inherited some of- copies of things that the pilot had discovered, he went to the RAF museum, he went to the public records office at Kew. He slowly gathered bits together but it was, it was a bit of a patchwork, it was a, it was a jigsaw with quite a lot of pieces missing. So, in July 2005- So that was another ten years later, I think he’d written his, his memoirs by then and, well partly written his memoirs, and put it on a floppy disk so that we all had copies. He, he suddenly started using the internet an awful lot, you know, for a man of his age he was, he was quite competent with computers and, he discovered Google Earth, and this meant that he was able to compare this map that he’d got with the, with the approximate crash site marked on it, something that the pilot had given him. He tried to compare the two and I was over there in the summer and he said, ‘Look at this,’ you know, ‘We might be able to find out where my plane crashed,’ and I told him he was bonkers but humoured him, and he decided he wanted to pursue it and I didn’t see that it could do any harm, so I agreed to help him, when I wasn’t teaching ‘cause I was busy teaching full time. He contacted a German museum curator and an archivist, and the curator put him in touch with a journalist, and the journalist together with the archivist sort of launched a campaign in a local newspaper on his behalf, and appealed for witnesses to the, to the crash. They knew approximately where the plane had come down, they knew the night, they knew the time of the raid, and they asked for witnesses, and, you know, a lot of people replied who didn’t really have all that much to say, or it was interesting but not directly relevant. But there were sixty responses and these lead to an incredibly discovery which nobody could have anticipated at all. Just incredible. So, Ralph Dresser[?] was the investigative journalist and he collated these sixty responses and some turned out to be eye-witnesses, one in particular had actually seen the wreckage of my further- my father’s plane. He’d been a schoolboy, he was now a retired dentist, and he remembered going through the wood on the morning after the crash, and seeing this plane which was being guarded, what, you know, until they could take it away ‘cause of where it had crashed, it wasn’t an easy thing to move ‘cause it had all woodland all around it. So they gave- The journalist organised a reception for us at the townhall in Köpenick on- In October, it was half term, October 2005, and- The atmosphere was amazing because, because, you know, here are all these people that had been bombing each other and they were all sitting round the table and telling anecdotes and the atmosphere was, was wonderful it was a, it was a atmosphere of, entirely of friendship and reconciliation, and towards the end of this reception this guy came forward and he had kept a diary as a schoolboy and in the diary was a record of, you know, his thoughts when they were in the cellar during the raid, during which my father's plane was shot down, and, you know, finding the plane the next day and there was a little sketch showing the plane and where all the bodies were, and it just seemed too much of a coincidence not, not to be connected but obviously we had no proof at that point, that it was dad’s plane. So, we went back in May 2006, again we had to wait until I could, you know, dedicate some time to it, school holidays. We didn’t want to do it during the winter, obviously. So we went back in May 2006, and we finally identified- Visited the site, identified by the main eye-witnesses as the crash site, and with the help of local historians, who’d all climbed on the band wagon, and a metal detector, one of them was a research, you know, a researcher into historic aircraft and had done a lot of these excavations and he had a metal detector, and we unearthed fragments of metal which had been buried underneath the leaf mould, and, you know, lots of bits of hinges and pipes and tools and, you know, you got more and more exciting until we eventually got to one fragment which had a reference number on it, which is a bit like the vin number on a car, and the researcher took it away and linked it to a particular series of Halifax bombers that were made in the English electric factory at Preston and it narrowed it down to a series of about 50 planes, and then we cross referenced that list with the list of losses for that night and we ended up with two planes, and then later dad established that the other plane had crashed on the other side of Berlin. So, we, we knew, you know, ninety-nine percent sure that it was dad's plane and he was so excited. I can remember him in the bathroom with the fragments of metal that we'd found and a nail brush and a tube of shower gel, you know, cleaning them up and he thought- He, he was just like a little boy at Christmas. But the story didn’t end there, I thought ‘Oh great, we’ve got some closure,’ you know, ‘Dad’s visited the crash site, he’s met these people, perhaps he’ll, perhaps he’ll have peace now’. But, the journalist carried on nibbling away and he told the Berlin police and sort of wound them up a bit and said ‘Oh,’ you know, ‘Maybe there’s some unexploded ammunition there,’ you know, ‘You really ought to go and have another look in case there’s anything that could be hazardous’. So they waited till November 2006 and went back with metal detector again, they found further fragments of the plane, various tools, part of a parachute harness with the instructions turned to unlock on it, and then near the parachute harness, they found human remains, and I can remember having, you know, being given this news by the German journalist on the phone and then having to sit by the phone and plan how I was going to tell my father because I knew it would open another can of worms and part of me didn’t want to do that. Anyway, so having ascertained that the human remains were probably linked to the plane crash. They handed them over to the British authorities. This took a while because Berlin police had to satisfy themselves that it wasn’t a crime scene. So, the British authorities had them for quite a long time, they went at one point to Canada because one of the people that had been missing and didn’t have a marked grave was a Canadian, and dad got frustrated because thing weren’t moving fast enough and he was getting older. So he wrote a speculative letter to a newspaper in Newcastle because he knew that the other chap, whose remains had been- never been found, who was buried in an unmarked grave or probably not buried at all, he’d come from Newcastle so my father had tried to find out, you know, if any of the family were still in the area, and he had traced, through this speculative letter to the Newcastle chronicle, a lady called Marjorie Akon [?] who was the sister of his missing flight engineer, John Bremner. Efforts to close- trace close relatives of the other missing crew member in Canada had proved more difficult, although I did actually make contact with them after the book was published through Facebook and I am now in, in touch with a distant relative of the Canadian, and I sent her a book so that she wasn’t, you know, so that everybody's now got copies of the book. So in April 2008 (so this was two, not, no- one-and-a-half years, eighteen months after the bones had actually been found) mitochondrial DNA testing finally established a definitive link between the remains found at the crash site and Marjorie Akon[?]. So after sixty-odd years of not knowing what had happened to her brother, she was told definitively that these were remains of her brother, and she was eighty-eight, so for sixty-four years she’d not known what had happened to her younger brother, and the result was a full ceremonial, military funeral in Berlin on the 16th of October 2008 with the Queens Colour Squadron officiating. The surviving crew members and their closest relatives were invited, most of them attended, I think only Laurie Underwood wasn't represented. Huge efforts were made by the MOD to trace the families of the two crew members who were already buried in Berlin, so that was Eric Church and Standridge. Stanbridge’s daughter actually came over from Australia and she had never visited her father’s grave before, and the- Eric Church’s son, Michael was discovered literally a few days, that he was finally traced- Literally a few days before the funeral and he had to actually take someone else's place on the flight in order to get him there on time, and again he, he’d never known what had happened to, to his father, not definitively. So, it was hugely emotional. So, six of the crew of eight were represented by their own family members and the Canadian was represented by somebody from the Canadian embassy, so that was seven out of eight. Only Laurie Underwood sadly wasn’t represented ‘cause he was too frail to travel, and none of his children or grandchildren were there, but I - Again I’m still in touch with them on Facebook. The most important mourners at that funeral were- Well the most important one, was undoubtedly Marjorie Akon[?], John Bremner’s sister, she was finally able to say goodbye to her beloved brother and in an interview with the BBC, or it might’ve been ITN, anyway I’ve got the footage, she expressed the deep gratitude that she’d at last been able to do this, to, to say goodbye because she’d not wanted to spend the remainder of her days believing that John had never been accounted for, and she actually died herself three months later at eight-nine, just, just after her eighty-ninth birthday. Because of my father’s efforts she didn’t have to go to her grave without knowing the outcome, because John was buried with great dignity and ceremony, so she died almost exactly sixty-five years to the day after her brother, also in January, and although she was sadly missed by her family they were unanimous in saying that she’d experienced a great sense of closure and relief and the end of her life having been able to say that last goodbye, she actually said- I can’t remember the exact words but she said something like she’d been spared long enough, to see her brother laid to rest. But I think what is important to stress is that none of this could’ve been achieved without the internet, the internet was absolutely pivotal to all of this research. We could never have made any of these links without the internet, so the internet, you know, we couldn’t’ve done in, ten years- If the bones had been discovered ten years earlier, they would’ve, they would've just buried them in an unmarked grave, you know, just ten years. The technology had all, all come on stream, we- Everything was available on, you know- In time for the internet and the DNA profiling and before she died because once we’d loss Marjorie Akon[?]- I think that her daughter could've also given a DNA sample because the, the mitochondrial DNA goes down the maternal line and she in turn has got daughter- No has she got daughters? Yes, yes, she’s got two daughters, so probably we could’ve used the, we could’ve used the next generation but it was much nicer for it to be a sibling. So, the internet was pivotal. The MOD were obviously pivotal, we couldn’t’ve done it without them. We couldn't've done it without the Germans because the- Our German friends, I’m still in touch, you know, almost daily with the journalist. The museum curator, who himself had been a prisoner of the Stasi during the cold war. So, he was an interesting man. Historians, eye-witnesses, it was a group effort and the ability to communicate via the internet had even enabled us to trace the Austrian grandson of the ace fighter pilot who shot my father’s plane down, and incredibly he visited us in August 2007 and we all drank champagne in my parents' garden in Essex. This was before- After we’d found the bones but before we knew who- Exactly who, whose they were, and although my father wasn’t a religious man, he did once say that somebody else had a hand in, in the discovery because it was too much to be a coincidence. In the opening- In the preface to the book I’ve, I’ve quoted Byron and said, ‘Truth is stranger than fiction,’ because if you’d made it up, you know, somebody had made it up as a, as a plot of a book, people would’ve dismissed it and said that it was too perfect that all the things linking up, you know, it was too good to be true, and that made me think of the Byron quote. So, contacts that we made during the course of the research led us to friendships, new friendships in the UK, Germany, Canada, Australia and I’m in touch with the second generation of the entire crew, including the second dickie pilot. It reminds us of the horror of war, but also shows us how coincidences like this can lead to deep and lasting friendships between former enemies, and the crew and their families have achieved a sense of closure. So, I'd like to dedicate this interview to the crew of LW 337. Their survival rate exactly matches the chances of any airman in Bomber Command, because only half of them came back [voice breaks with emotion]. The average age of those who died in action was- Well here it says twenty-one, I’ve read twenty-two somewhere else, so I don’t know which is right. So, the crew were; the pilot George Griffiths, POW, died in 1998, navigator Reg Wilson, POW, died in 2016 (on the 11th November ironically), the rear gunner Johnny Bushell, who was a POW and who died in 2013, the bomb aimer Laurie Underwood, taken POW also died in 2013, the wireless operator Eric Church, killed in action, identified and buried in Berlin shortly after the war, the second dickie pilot Kenneth Stanbridge, also killed in action and identified and buried in the German- the Charlottenburg war cemetery in 1947 (I think it was after the war, when they were moved), then the flight engineer John Bremner who was killed in action whose remains were not found until 2006, and who was buried in 2008 in the same row as the two others in the Berlin war cemetery, and last but not least the mid-upper gunner Charles Dupueis, the Canadian who was killed in action and whose remains, as far as well know, were never found and so he remains to this day commemorated on the Runnymede memorial. Although it’s possible that he is in the Berlin war Cemtery but in an unmarked grave, that’s, that’s entirely possible ‘cause there are some unmarked graves in the same area and they did tend to, to bury the- whole crews together if they could or part crews together, and of course now the four who died in action will all be commemorated on the ribbon of- On the stones at the IBCC, and we have funded stones in the ribbon of remembrance for those who did survive but have now all passed on. So that’s George, Reg, John and Laurie, whose, whose stones we have yet to, to see because they're being laid as I speak.

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Citation

David Meanwell, “Interview with Janet Hughes. Two,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 18, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11126.

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