Interview with George Hutton

Title

Interview with George Hutton

Description

George Hutton won ten pounds for composing a motto regarding the manufacture of Mosquitos. In time he volunteered as aircrew and trained as a gunner. He was posted to 199 Squadron for his first tour. His second tour was with 514 Squadron. The crew baled out when the aircraft ran out of fuel and George was enjoying breakfast before he was collected and returned to the squadron. His crewmate landed on a roof and the householder flung open the windows to demand to know what he was doing on his roof. On another occasion they were coned on an operation and George was amazed they managed to survive the encounter.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2016-05-26

Contributor

Julie Williams

Rights

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.

Format

00:21:15 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AHuttonGR160526

Spatial Coverage

Transcription

SC: So, my name’s Steve Cooke from the International Bomber Command Project.
GH: Yeah.
SC: And we’re here today with Mr George Hutton at your home in Little Eaton, Derbyshire.
GH: Yes.
SC: To record this interview. Also present is Barbara Hutton, George’s wife. And Cynthia Sherborne, George’s daughter. I’ve got that correct?
CS: Yeah.
SC: So, it’s really over to you now, George.
GH: Yeah.
SC: To tell me everything and anything you want about your memories of joining the RAF and before joining the RAF. Because you were first of all working on Mosquitoes, I think.
GH: Yeah. Well, I was, I was [unclear]
SC: Right.
GH: And, and then I joined the RAF you know. And I can’t say really.
SC: You were building Mosquitoes and —
GH: Yeah.
CS: Wasn’t that a —
GH: And I won, I won ten pounds prize for a motto I said in a competition.
SC: Yes.
GH: And I had, “Turn off the heaters and build more Mosquitoes.” And it won the award.
SC: Very good.
GH: Something. So, I was very pleased with that.
SC: Yes.
GH: Of course, ten pounds was quite a bit of money in those days.
SC: Yeah. Yeah.
GH: Yeah.
SC: And then what happened?
GH: Well, I joined up. And joined the RAF and then I finally went through to Bomber Command. And —
CS: Didn’t you start out trying to be a pilot?
GH: Beg your pardon?
CS: Did you start out trying to be a pilot?
BH: Yes.
GH: Yeah. I didn’t do very well. And [pause] what were you saying?
SC: You went to St John’s Wood I think for training, didn’t you?
GH: Yeah.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Yeah.
SC: And what was that like?
GH: Well, it was quite funny really.
SC: Yeah.
GH: I wasn’t very good at it and —
SC: I’m sure you were.
GH: And I can’t really remember.
CS: Yeah.
CS: When — why did you decide to go in the RAF?
GH: I don’t know. It seemed, seemed a better job than standing in the mud in the trenches.
CS: Yeah.
GH: Yeah.
CS: Yeah.
GH: So, it was, it was quite good really.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And —
CS: So, how did you come to be on, get on to being a gunner?
GH: I don’t know really. I just, just took the job up.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And I was quite good at it really.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Yeah.
SC: And you were posted first to 199 Squadron.
GH: Yeah. Yeah. 199.
BH: And it was 514 wasn’t it?
GH: Yeah that was, that was on the second tour. That.
SC: Yeah. How did things go on the first tour?
GH: Well, I did, I did the full tour and —
BH: You had to bale out once didn’t you?
GH: Yeah.
BH: Had to bale out.
CS: Yeah. With what kind of aircraft were those then? For that squadron.
GH: Well, I started off on Stirlings.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Well, Ansons really for training.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And then Stirlings. And then from Stirlings to the Lancasters.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Then on the second tour I was on Mitchells. And —
CS: Yeah.
SC: Now, do, do you do you remember some of your operations on that first tour? I think you went to Bordeaux on the very first operation.
GH: I don’t know where. Where it was now but I, I remember — I can’t think really.
CS: You do usually tell your stories well.
GH: Eh?
CS: You do usually tell your stories well.
GH: Yeah.
SC: I think you were mine laying on the, was it the mine laying on the first? The first operation.
GH: I don’t think so.
SC: No.
CS: Yeah. Up there.
GH: Oh yeah.
CS: Mines. Yeah.
GH: Yeah.
CS: Yeah.
GH: Yeah. The worst, worst episode was we got coned.
SC: Cold?
GH: And that was the worst. I didn’t, I didn’t think, I didn’t think I’d get out of that.
SC: Yeah.
CS: Which? Which raid was that? Where you got coned.
SC: I don’t know whether I wrote it down or not.
CS: No. You can’t remember which one it was.
GH: But I know there was bits pinging off the aircraft.
SC: Yeah.
GH: At the time, you know.
SC: So what happened? You were caught in the searchlights.
GH: Yeah. And of course you dived to get out the searchlights and come up again and of course you never reach the height that you were before.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And then of course you dive again to get out of the lights and you’re gradually driven down.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And anyway we managed alright.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Despite. And then we flew over the sea and examined the aircraft with torches over the sea to see whether the tyres were alright.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Or the flaps came down.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And see all the necessary bits and pieces were working, you know.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Yeah. Very lucky really.
SC: Yeah. But you landed safely.
GH: Yeah. Yeah.
CS: What did the, what did the, was it the pilot say to the navigator on that thing?
GH: Oh, he said, the pilot says, ‘Just give us a course home,’ he says, ‘And I’ll get you out of this.’ And the navigator says, ‘Get us out of this.’ he says, ‘You got us into it.’ [laughs] And, yeah, and anyway we got home alright.
SC: Yeah.
CS: Yeah.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Yeah.
CS: Yeah. It must have been very frightening though. You must have been —
GH: Oh, well yeah. I didn’t think we’d get out actually.
SC: Yeah.
BH: Then you had to bale out didn’t you?
CS: Another time you baled out didn’t you?
BH: Baled out.
CS: That was another time.
BH: You had to bale out
GH: Yeah.
BH: On your way to the house.
GH: That was only because we ran out of fuel.
BH: Yeah.
SC: Gosh.
CS: Yeah.
GH: Yeah.
CS: Yeah.
SC: We’d been to — I think we’d been to Italy, I think.
CS: Yeah.
GH: And, yeah, and it was a headwind and we weren’t making much progress home and the fuel ran out so the pilot said, ‘Well,’ he said, ‘You’d better get out,’ he says.
BH: Out.
GH: So we all baled out and sort of gathered. Gathered.
BH: Actually landed the plane. Didn’t he? He landed the plane. He landed the plane.
GH: Oh yeah. He landed.
BH: And he hit a hedge unfortunately. If the hedge had been gone he’d have just come down. Yeah.
SC: Yeah.
BH: Yeah. But he hit the hedge.
GH: Yeah.
CS: Yeah. And where did you land?
GH: Saffron Walden. And we went [pause] we went to a house in the village and said where was the nearest police station?
SC: Yeah.
GH: And the, a bloke said, ‘Up the town,’ So, we said well where’s so and so? ‘Upper,’ so and so, you know.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And he wasn’t giving any information away. And he sort of [pause] so I set off. I thought well there’s a telephone line there. There’s bound to be a telephone at the end of it somewhere.
SC: Yeah.
GH: So, I followed. Followed that you see.
BH: It was about 5 in the morning wasn’t it? Was it about 5 o’clock?
GH: Oh it was early in the morning.
BH: Yeah.
CS: Yeah.
GH: And I knocked on a door of this big house and a maid came to the door and she gave a squeak and rushed off and came back with a —
BH: A doctor somebody.
GH: With the mistress, you see. So I said, ‘Could I use your telephone?’ ‘Oh,’ she said, ‘You sit there,’ she said, ‘I’ll telephone.’
BH: They knew. They knew there were a lot down they said.
GH: Yeah.
CS: Yeah.
GH: So, anyway she got us some breakfast and then there was a knock at the door and a bloke came in. A soldier. He said, ‘There you are, you bugger,’ he said. He said, ‘I’ve been looking all over for you.’ So, that was alright. So, we got, got some breakfast and then what happened? I can’t think of what happened now.
BH: One of them he was with landed over the top of a cottage.
GH: Oh yeah.
BH: Yeah.
GH: Yeah. And of course a WAAF came around in a car to collect us.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And she took us into Saffron Walden. And a bloke said —
BH: Come on. Come on. Hurry up.
GH: She, she took us in to Saffron Walden and got us some breakfast and he [pause] I can’t think of it.
CS: Well, didn’t one of, one of the other people in your plane he landed on a house.
GH: Oh yeah.
CS: That was it.
GH: He landed on, on the house you see and the window opened and a bloke stuck his head out and said, ‘What are you doing up there?’ So, he said, ‘I’m birds nesting.’ So, anyway and he said the bloke’s wife was sitting up in bed with the bedclothes up to her chin. And —
CS: Yeah.
GH: That was rather quite humorous really.
SC: And you all survived.
GH: All survived. Yeah.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Yeah.
CS: Yeah. You remember one of the, one of the things you said when you went, I think it was to Italy. There was a raid on a rail yard where you had to, the instructions were to turn around and come back the other way.
GH: Oh. Boomerang you mean? Yes.
CS: No. No. You had to go, you were going to a railyard and the instructions — down a valley.
GH: Oh yeah. I don’t know where that was but I know we were all flying along this valley and had instructions to turn back. And of course we were at the front of the queue.
SC: Yeah —
GH: And —
CS: Carry on with your story.
GH: And all, they were coming down this valley and of course they turned around and of course the other lot were coming this way. And there was aircraft dodging all over the place. You know.
CS: So the pilot said, ‘I’m not doing that.’ Didn’t he?
GH: Yeah. Something like that. Oh yeah. He said, my pilot said, ‘I’m not doing that,’ he said and he climbed.
SC: Yeah.
GH: It was in the Alps wasn’t it?
CS: Yeah.
GH: He come and he was, we were clearing the peak by a few feet. Of course it was a Stirling.
SC: A Stirling. Yeah.
GH: And it wasn’t very good at climbing and flying, you see. And anyway we scraped over the top of it you know.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Yeah.
SC: And you survived again.
GH: Yeah.
CS: And you told me that you looked down and the snow was just a few feet below.
GH: Oh yeah. The snow was just a few feet below us.
SC: Gosh.
GH: And we were over the top.
SC: Wow.
GH: The Alps.
CS: Yeah.
GH: Yeah. But anyway.
SC: Ahh the Caterpillar Club.
GH: Yeah.
CS: Yes.
SC: Yeah. You’re one of— it’s quite unique. You are one of only a few people in the Caterpillar Club.
GH: Yeah.
CS: Yeah. Not many of them.
SC: No.
CS: Oh right. Yeah.
SC: No. And tell me about, you had another pilot you weren’t so happy with.
GH: I beg your pardon?
SC: I think you had a pilot that you weren’t so happy with.
GH: Oh yeah. Yeah. We had this, this chap. He was, he probably was a good pilot you know. But he was always telling people what to do. Doing other people’s jobs.
SC: Right.
GH: You know. And he was really, you had a job to get on with him.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And anyway he finally left.
CS: Didn’t you say you went on a flight with him when, when he came in to land he forgot to put the wheels down.
GH: Oh yeah. Well, forgot to put the wheels down. We were flying between the hangars. He was, he wasn’t on the runway and we had a heck of a job there.
SC: Gosh.
GH: But [pause] but I don’t think he lasted. Poor chap.
SC: No. Yeah.
CS: Do you want to have a rest dad while we have a coffee?
GH: Alright.
SC: That’s a good idea.
CS: Ok. Just give you a —
[recording paused]
SC: You did very well completing forty missions.
GH: Yeah.
SC: And you flew on Stirlings and Lancasters.
GH: Yeah. And Mitchells.
SC: And Mitchells.
GH: Yeah. Yeah.
SC: Which plane did you like the most?
GH: Oh the Lancaster.
SC: Yeah.
GH: It was amazing. When you were on a Stirling you were twenty two foot off the ground. It stood like that.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And then when it was taking off if there was a crosswind or anything like that it would be on this high undercarriage and it would start to swing.
SC: Gosh.
GH: Like that.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And you’d have a hell of a job to control it in a crosswind, you know. And there was a, on the Stirling you had a hell of a job to keep control of it in a crosswind.
SC: Yeah.
GH: And it was amazing really.
SC: Yeah. But the Lancaster was better.
GH: The Lancaster was off.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Yeah. Yeah. It was remarkable.
SC: Yeah. It could fly higher.
GH: It could fly higher. Faster.
SC: Faster.
GH: And we were on the, on the Lanc 2 —
SC: Yeah.
GH: Which had radial engines. And it could, I think it was, I think it could fly further but not faster.
SC: Yeah.
GH: There was a, there was a difference. I don’t know what it was now.
SC: Yeah.
GH: But —
SC: And you were mid-upper turret.
GH: Yeah.
SC: Yeah.
GH: Thank you.
SC: Were you ever attacked?
GH: Oh yeah. Yeah. I don’t think I, I don’t — well I don’t know whether I hit him or not but you know but they were very sneaky. Yeah. Yeah. And we, you know we dodged about a bit.
SC: Yeah. Yeah. And —

Collection

Citation

Steve Cooke, “Interview with George Hutton,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 19, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11131.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.

Can you help improve this description?