Interview with David Jackson


Interview with David Jackson


David Jackson tells of his father, Norman Jackson VC, born in Ealing, London in 1919 and who worked in an engineering company when the war broke out. After initially trying to join the navy, he then joined the RAF and classified as a fitter on engines. He was then posted to 95 Squadron and trained on Sunderland flying boats before remustering as a flight engineer. David gives a detailed and vivid account of his father’s operation to Schweinfurt on the 27th of April 1944, which earned him the Victoria Cross: although he had reached his 30 operations with 106 Squadron, he volunteered to join the aircrew to see them through, making this his thirty first operation; the aircraft was attacked by an enemy fighter and racked by cannon fire; with the aircraft on fire, Norman decided to exit the plane in order to extinguish the flames. At the second attack, Norman was blown off the aircraft and landed in enemy territory, breaking both ankles and suffering serious injuries on his hands. He reached a German village, where he was indignantly called “Terror Flieger”, taken into custody, paraded through the streets and taken for treatment to hospital, where he spent ten months. Afterwards he was interned in a prisoner of war camp. David remembers when his father was invested with the Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace and met Leonard Cheshire. David remembers his father flying ten operations to Berlin and tells of one on which they were attacked by enemy fire and lost one engine. David tells of the legal issues regarding his father’s medals and how they ended up in the Imperial War Museum after being sold at an auction. He discusses his father’s views on the lack of recognition to the aircrews after the war and debates the bombing context of the German Luftwaffe.




Temporal Coverage




01:25:11 audio recording


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CB: [unclear] [laughs] My name is Chris Brockbank and today is the 30th of November 19, 2017 and we are in Kingswood in Surrey talking to David Jackson whose father was Norman Jackson VC and we are going to start off with earliest recollections of father’s life. So, what were the first [unclear] there?
DJ: Oh, good afternoon Chris. My father was born in Ealing in London on the 8th of April 1919. He was born to a single mother who put my father up for adoption. My father was adopted by a Mr and Mrs Gunter who lived in Twickenham. They were a professional family as far as I know. They certainly had a lovely house in Camac Road, Twickenham, they also adopted, just after dad another lad by the name of Geoffrey, Geoffrey Hartley. My father and Geoffrey grew up together, very close as half-brothers, my father was educated in Twickenham at Archdeacon Cambridge School, he stayed there until the age of sixteen where after gaining his school certificate joined an engineering company, he always had an interest in engineering. At the start of the Second World War in September 1939 my father decided that he wanted to volunteer, join the military services so he first he tried to join the Royal Navy but was told they weren’t actually recruiting at that time and so thought he would try the Royal Air Force where he was accepted. He was sent to RAF Halton where he took a further apprenticeship in engineering on airframes etcetera, from there once qualified, he joined 95 Squadron which was Sunderland flying boats, as a fitter he was sent to Africa, North East Africa which was Freetown where he served his time on Sunderland flying boats, he returned in 1942, in summer of ’42 where his intention was to join Bomber Command as a flight engineer, prior to that in 1939 he’d actually met my mother, Alma Lilian, they became engaged in 1940 when my father was then sent to North Africa and my, they didn’t see each other for two years, on my father’s return they organised their wedding which was on Boxing Day in 1942. ’43 my father started his training as an engineer on Bomber Command, joined his first squadron later that summer in ’43 which is 106 Squadron at that time based at Syerston in Lincolnshire soon to be sent to RAF Metheringham where the squadron was then based, flew several missions including ten to Berlin, several incidents during his tour of operations with Bomber Command, got shot up, engines out of action, very heavy landings with Fred Mifflin the pilot who they considered taking off flying actually and retraining because he couldn’t land the Lancaster without bouncing it, one day that led in a crosswind situation where they switched runways on a heavy crosswind and my father, the aircraft crashed with a heavy landing losing his undercarriage, my father suffered a broken leg at that time but even with a broken leg managed to get Fred Mifflin, he was in a bit of a, had a few problems inside the cockpit and managed to drag him out but was patched up and continued flying with a broken leg for further six weeks. Thirty missions were completed because my father actually had volunteered with another crew, his flight engineer wasn’t able to go one night, father stood in, so he reached his thirty missions’ quota before the rest of the crew. On the night of the 27th of April 1944, target designated was Schweinfurt in Germany, father volunteered to go along with the rest of the crew to see them through, this would be his thirty first mission, they took off on time, prior to the take-off my father had received a telegram to say that his first child, my oldest brother Brian had been born, he went along on the mission, they hit a head wind which slowed them up and when they arrived over the target they seemed to be alone but they went ahead, bombed, and by turning out and all of a sudden Sandy Sandelands the wireless operator spoke to Fred Mifflin the pilot over the intercom telling him he had a blip on his fishpond screen, his radar screen, he felt that blip could be a night fighter, they all braced themselves and waited, he then came back, Sandy Sanderson said it’s closer, it’s fast, it’s definitely a night fighter and then before they knew it the aircraft was being racked with cannon fire, my father was thrown to the ground, he was injured at that time with shell splinters, on recovering his position in the cockpit he noticed that the starboard wing had a fire just inside the engine area, he tried to feather the engine which he did, he feathered it, but the fire was still raging out there because it was basically in the wing where the fuel tank was. He decided at that time that he could deal with it, he got the, asked the permission of Fred the pilot, he felt he could deal, so he said, he could actually climb out on the wing with a fire extinguisher with the aid of the crew if he jettison his parachute, Fred Mifflin looked at him incredulously but said, ok, go ahead, so Dad took the cockpit axe which had an ice pick end on it, he took a fire extinguisher from inside the cockpit which he placed inside his tunic, his flying tunic, the bomb aimer and the navigator stood by as Dad climbed onto the navigator’s table and jettisoned the hatch above there which is just behind the pilot’s seat, he then deployed his parachute so that navigator and bomb aimer could hold onto the rigging lines, whilst had sorted the lines out Dad then climbed through the hatch and into the two hundred mile and hour slipstream, it was icy cold, he said he always remembered how cold it was, he inched his way out keeping close to the fuselage, trying not to have the slipstream affect him any more than it would, he used the ice pick on the axe to fire into the side of the fuselage to give him some purchase and then pulled himself down towards the wing root which was below him and toward the aerial intake at the front of the wing where he managed to get his left hand in to hold on, he then removed the fire extinguisher from his flying jacket and started dealing with, knocked the end of the fire extinguisher off on the front of the wing, the extinguisher started and he started to deal with the fire, he felt he was doing ok and the fire started to die down, at that point the wing lifted below him and the aircraft started to bank to the left. He was then, he then realised that the fighter must have found them again, the fighter came in, racked the aircraft again with machine gun and cannon fire, my father was hit several times with shell splinter and bullets, the wing blew up around him, engulfing him in flames, the slipstream from the aircraft as it slipped to the port side and down, lifted my father off the wing and he was thrown backwards, he came to an abrupt halt just behind the rear of the aircraft because he was still attached to the cockpit via his rigging lines and parachute, as he was being dragged down through the air, those inside the cockpit thought Dad had been killed but thought they’d get the parachute out anyway, they scrambled as best they could to get the shoot out as it been ripped, as it went through the hatch above the navigators table, it also suffered damage through the fire, my father then left the aircraft as the parachute went out through the hatch, he descended to ground quite rapidly, hit the ground very, very heavily, smashed both ankles, he laid there in a pitiful state, ankles smashed, his hands and face were severely burned, his right eye was completely closed, he also had several shell and shrapnel wounds in his body, he lay there until first light, he then crawled on elbows and knees through the forest and came across a small cottage, he approached the cottage and with his elbow knocked on the door, a window opened above him and a male voice shouted, was ist da? My father said, RAF. The voice from the window upstairs once again said, was ist da? My father cleared his voice as best he could and said in a louder voice, RAF. The voice from above shouted, Terror Flieger! Churchill gangster! And the window closed. Dad then heard the window opening and expected to be kicked and punched but there were a couple of girls inside, who took father in and laid him on a settee and started attending to him, their father, who was the person in the window upstairs, disappeared through the door, he returned a little while later with a policeman and a chap who Dad thought must have been Gestapo was in plain clothes, they then took Dad off of the settee and my father, supported by the policeman was made to march to the local police station. A the police station he was placed into a [unclear], he was in wheels through the streets to the local hospital, en route he suffered verbal abuse and even some stones but he always said he understood this, at the hospital he was treated very well, he stayed in the hospital for several months, he was then transferred to a prisoner of war camp where he served out his time, he escaped once, he tried to, was recaptured, at the end of the war he was repatriated along with the other, the rest, the surviving members of the crew. The surviving members of the crew told my father’s story, my father got a call from a WAAF officer he said who asked if that was warrant officer Norman Cyril Jackson, he said, yes, it was, and she said, I’m just calling you to let you know you’ve been awarded the Victoria Cross. My father’s words were, what the bloody hell for?
CB: We’ll pause there for a moment. That’s. Now in terms of picking up a bit more of detail on this, they got hit and hit badly twice by the fighter or fighters but in general in the dark you can’t see anything that’s going on but you can be seen so what did he feel about flying in these sorties?
DJ: My father, I can remember my father saying that on every single mission they flew which was obviously at night, very dark unless you had a full moon which sometimes light you up, you were, they used to have the four Merlin engines on the Lancaster, and what was a concern to them all the time was the exhaust of the Merlin engine which had basically bright flames coming out of it and that always made the Lancaster visible, they felt from inside the cockpit to anything that was out there but they also had pleasure in seeing that coming out because they knew the engines were still running, so it was basically almost a double edged sword, one you needed to see the exhaust as Dad said to make sure they are all running properly but the other you knew you were a possible target to anyone that was out there that you couldn’t see but they could see you.
CB: And in his training going back a bit he was originally trained as a ground engineer
DJ: Correct, yes.
CB: At what stage and how did he do it, did he get into flying? [unclear]
DJ: This would have happened in Africa, in Freetown when he was with 95 Squadron the Sunderland flying boats, he decided out there that he actually wanted to be part of the aircrew and as a qualified engineer he would be useful to Bomber Command and he knew the new four engine bombers were coming onto stream with the Lancaster and felt that was a position for him and so suitably applied and was accepted
CB: So what do you know about the training he had to do in preparation for getting into the, into Bomber Command?
DJ: Well, I’m reading now, this is the Air VCs Chaz Bowyer, book called For Valour, now, this actually says that my father enlisted in the 20th of October 1939 after various training courses at Halton and Hednesford he became classified as a fitter 11E engines, a group one tradesman posted overseas, his first unit was 95 Squadron to which he reported on the 2nd of January 1941, a Short Sunderland flying boat squadron based on the West African coast near Freetown following, for the following eighteen months Jackson continued to serve as a engine fitter on flying boats Marine Craft but the opportunity to remuster to flying duties as a flight engineer attracted him and he accordingly applied for training, as a result he returned to England in September 1942 and after six months at 27 OTU, Operational Training Unit moved to RAF St Athan at the end of March 1943 to complete instruction. Finally, with promotion to sergeant he was mustered, or remustered, I apologize, as a flight engineer on the 14th of June and posted to number 1645 Heavy Conversion Unit on the 28th of July he joined his first squadron 106 based at Syerston and flying Avro Lancasters.
CB: Right, that sets the scene very well. Did he talk about what the training was like?
DJ: No,
CB: And
DJ: Only, the only thing Dad ever used to mention about training was that the RAF lost more aircrew training than they did on missions themselves, on sorties, he said the loss rate on training was quite high, that’s what I can remember him saying about training
CB: Certainly, there was quite a loss. So, with his training he didn’t start flying until he got to the operational training unit is what you’re saying, yeah, because he’s been on the ground before.
DJ: Well, again I’m reading from Chaz Bowyer’s book here, which has quite a lot of detail, so from September 1942, I think that’s when he started, he applied and after six months at 27 Operational Training Unit moved to RAF St Athan and that was the end of March when he, he may have started his flying training then, whether there was any prior to that at the 27 Operational Training Unit I don’t know.
CB: Ok.
DJ: I don’t know, I think Dad did actually, I can remember Dad talking about RAF Elstos which was a small twine engined aeroplane he used to fly, so at that point being
CB: Ansons,
DJ: Ansons, sorry, the Anson, my apology,
CB: Yes, yeah
DJ: The Anson aircraft, so he did some time on that
CB: Right
DJ: Now I presume that was not at the operational, that may have been at the Operational Training Unit rather than the Heavy Conversion Unit, so I suspected he started before that
CB: The Heavy Conversion Unit would have been the four engine
DJ: The four engine, absolutely, yeah
CB: One way or another. Ok, good, and because he talked to you about a number of things, what did he say about when he got to flying, how he felt about flying?
DJ: He didn’t actually like it that much, I mean, bear in mind, Dad never used to speak, talk about it really at all, it used to be people asking him questions and we as children would be there and I asked, you know, in my father’s later life used to talk Dad about it but he was not very happy with talking about the war, he felt everybody should move on. What was the question, sorry?
CB: The question was how he felt about flying.
DJ: Flying itself he never really enjoyed it, it was just something that had to be done and even though my father wasn’t a particularly religious man, he always said that nobody prayed harder than him before a mission, cause he knew what to expect.
CB: That’s an interesting point because people did different actions before going on a mission, on operation, what did he do? Did he have a mascot, or did he do something before getting in the [unclear]?
DJ: Father never had a mascot as far as I know, he just looked at it as a job that needed to be done and
CB: Did he go through a ritual before getting in the aircraft, do you know?
DJ: No, not that I know of, no.
CB: No.
DJ: He certainly would have spoken of it.
CB: And we are talking about here when he got to the Heavy Conversion Unit it’s now a bomber crew of seven, how did that crew get gelled together?
DJ: As far as I know, once they’d actually formed up as a crew they gelled very well, they, my father always said that they were like a band of brothers, they were very close and that probably, well, I’m sure that would have been the reason why my father decided to fly on the final mission to see them through, their thirtieth, my father’s thirty first, they were very close, socialised together
CB: You talked about him being badly injured when he landed, cause he landed in a different position after he left the aircraft
DJ: Yes
CB: Yeah
DJ: To the rest of the crew
CB: They got out later presumably
DJ: Yes
CB: Were they all in the same prison camp or different ones?
DJ: No, I think that I’m not absolutely sure of, I don’t know, they may have been in the same prison camp [unclear] record and I did not at some stage which Stalag Luft my father was in but I can’t recall it at the moment
CB: Yeah. But did they get together after the war?
DJ: I don’t know much about that actually, I do know that I met two, as a young lad, schoolboy, I met the wireless operator Sandy Sandelands who came to our house in Hampton Hill, Middlesex. I also met the navigator, Frank Higgins, I met him as well, he used to tell about, I can remember them saying that my father citation was always wrong but, you know, they said they just didn’t listen to us because you know, because my father certaition states that on leaving the aircraft my father slipped and then ended up on the wing involved in the fire, well, if you climb out on top of the fuselage on an aircraft travelling at two hundred miles an hour and you’d slip, you don’t go down, you go backwards and this is what they used to say to me and they said, we were looking at your father on the wing and thinking we didn’t actually want him to go out there, we’d all rather just bailed out and that was it, but certainly when the fighter attacked the second time they thought that was it, he shouldn’t have gone out there cause he had now gone, that’s what they thought but those are the two that I’ve met and the only other person I can really remember, which I’d met later many times was Leonard Cheshire at various functions at Buckingham Palace or [unclear] for the Victoria Cross holders
CB: Yes
DJ: But they are the two members of the crew that I have met
CB: And on that topic Leonard Cheshire and your father received the Victoria Cross on the same day, so what happened there?
DJ: The, it was October 1945, as I say, following my father getting that phone call from a female officer in the Royal Air Force informing him he was to be awarded the Victoria Cross, the investiture took place on October 1945, on that day which my mother and father attended was Leonard Cheshire as well, officer commanding 617 Squadron at that time, he was to be awarded the Victoria Cross as well at the investiture in front of the king they were informed about the protocol of the event, the Victoria Cross would always be called first, amongst, cause there were other people there receiving other awards, the Victoria Cross, the people to be invested with the Victoria Cross would be called first, Leonard Cheshire as a group captain, as I believe his rank was at that time, would be called up first, Leonard Cheshire stopped speaking to me at that time, he said, absolutely not, I cannot go first, Norman Jackson in Leonard’s words stuck out his neck much more than I ever did, he should get the Victoria Cross first, I feel humble by being in the presence of this man which is what Lenny told me many times every time I saw him but he, Leonard Cheshire was told that because of the protocol of the day that couldn’t happen and the king would receive him first followed by my father so that’s what happened on that day, Leonard Cheshire went first followed by my father who received the Victoria Cross
CB: And how did they continue their association after the war, was it to do with the?
DJ: I think that after the war of course, the war in Europe had finished, it hadn’t finished in the Far East, my father was being crewed up to continue flying in the Far East but then obviously with the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war in the Far East ended and that was that but on the aircraft that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki the RAF observer was Leonard Cheshire and it had such an effect on him psychologically that he then went into an infirmary to for, I’m not sure how long it was for but he disappeared really from public life at that time, so my father never saw him until probably in the 1950s at various Royal Air Force functions where the Victoria Cross holders would be invited and I think that’s when Leonard started to see my father again but there was no real friendship between them, it was just really the only association was that they’d both been awarded the Victoria Cross, my father did know of Leonard Cheshire prior to the investiture of Buckingham Palace because of his work with 617 Squadron as most people in the Royal Air Force would had done. He was a great man but never really continued to associate afterwards other than at functions, Royal Air Force functions or Victoria Cross and George Cross holders functions, that was it. Which is where I met Leonard quite a number of times.
CB: You talked about your father crewing up for the Far East, that was called Tiger Force after what squadron was he supposed to be going to
DJ: Ok, I don’t know Chris, it was just that me Dad said he was, cause I asked that question did he see Leonard afterwards,
CB: Yes, indeed.
DJ: But that was October 1945 and it was really at the end
CB: Sure
DJ: So prior to that Dad was, you know, he came back, he was still in the Royal Air Force, he was still in the Royal Air Force until ‘46
CB: We’ll get that from his service record, but what did he or how long did he stay in the RAF your father?
DJ: From ’39, I mean, I’ve already showed you the photographs
CB: Of his demob.
DJ: Which is 1946 with Roy Chadwick at the presentation of the silver Lancaster bomber to my father and my father’s in uniform there so I’m presuming he was still in the Royal Air Force at that time, awaiting demobilisation I presume, yeah, so, the exact date I don’t know.
CB: They tended to, as I understand it, they tended to demobilise the people who’d been in longest earliest.
DJ: Well, my father joined in ’39 so he would have been long so but what date he got his demob I don’t know.
CB: Right.
DJ: Other than certainly in that photograph dated in, which, March wasn’t it? 1946 with Roy Chadwick my father still in uniform there, so.
CB: Can we just go fast backwards now, your father is on the aircraft, he is hit by cannon fire on the second attack by a fighter and he falls with his parachute in fire is what you were saying. He was badly burned
DJ: I don’t know if it was on fire or just smouldering, yeah, the rigging lines would have been dragging back
CB: But, he was dropping with that
DJ: At an alarming rate
CB: At an alarming rate and but he is burnt
DJ: Yes, very badly
CB: So, what do you know about how the German doctors dealt with his injuries?
DJ: Well, my father always said that they treated him very, very well, there is a report that I found out about twelve years ago, fourteen years ago by Spink’s in London doing some fact finding on my father, the hospital records are still there in Germany and when dealing with my father’s wounds, they actually ran out of saline and had to send out for more, that’s what they told me from the records they saw cause his wounds were so severe, so, that’s what I know, I mean, he said they treated him very well, very, very well
CB: So how long, remind me, how long was he in hospital?
DJ: The exact time I don’t know I believe, according to again if I may refer to Chaz Bowyer’s book For Valour The Air VCs, it states in here and I presume that some research was done for this, that my father was actually, if I can find the paragraph, at daybreak, my father is in a pitiful condition [unclear] he’s in German for the next ten months, Jackson [unclear] recuperated in a German hospital, though his burned hands never fully recovered so according to Chaz Bowyer ten months which would have put him from April through to early ‘45 where he was then sent to the prisoner of war camp
CB: And his wounds of course never fully recovered
DJ: The [unclear]
CB: [unclear] but what was the state of his hands later?
DJ: My father’s hands were noticeable that there was something different about them, my father had a really, if you looked at my father’s arms, they stopped obviously at the wrist, in he had a ring around each wrist and then the colour changed, my father’s hands were almost translucent where all the skin and flesh had been burnt through and then healed over the years. It never really bothered him as far as enabling him to do whatever he wanted to do, so there was no lasting effect from it other than the look of them really. He never suffered any lasting effects from those burns they healed and that was it but my father’s hands reached a stage where they wouldn’t heal any more so they looked like they looked on my father’s body which when we used to if we went to the beach or whatever my father had a pair of shorts on it was quite obvious with the number of scars on my father’s back and on the back of his legs that some sort of injuries had been sustained during his war years, certainly is quite a few scars there and as far as I believe there were seventeen different [unclear] hospital records from shell and shrapnel in my father’s body, some of those would have been incurred first attack and the rest on the second attack when he was on the way
CB: From your recollection what did they look like? Were some of them [unclear], were some them long and [unclear]?
DJ: Yeah, they were white and diamond shaped, I remember there were a couple that were sort of maybe half an inch long, straight, there were some that were diamond shaped and some that were round with almost an indentation to them so the skin had almost, was concave in my father’s back
CB: Was it a subject to conversation between
DJ: Never had, Dad never, all Dad used to say was, well, I’ve still got some shrapnel in my head, he used to feel round the back, [unclear] you could feel it there and used to feel the back of Dad’s head you could feel something sharp inside the skin so that’s the only thing he used to say when you tried to say, Dad, all those scars on your back but he wasn’t, he never used to speak about it much at all, it was, we learned about it from people coming to the house all the time, people would want interviews with Dad, the newspapers etcetera etcetera radio stations and so we learned about it from there it wasn’t something that Dad actually really spoke about but as we got older we spoke to Dad about it and
CB: And how did he feel about being questioned
DJ: Didn’t like it,
CB: By his family?
DJ: Oh, by his family? Well, he never really used to, Dad loved his family, he would never really be angry with us, he would talk but he never really opened up completely, he was just saying that that was then it was a very bad time, didn’t enjoy it very much, glad to move on and my father, we used to, I used to go to school with my father’s medals, they never meant much to Dad at all, he would let us take them to school in our pocket and of course teachers would want to see them and other people want to see them, he would go to Royal Air Force functions at various places, he would never ever put his medals on until he was inside the building and he would take them off before he left the building, he wouldn’t put them on because he felt that it wasn’t fair on all the other aircrew who were walking around who had their medals on, he felt it was almost ill deserved. I can remember one incident where my father had a function to go to and normally his medals would be in his desk drawer where he’d throw them he put them in there and just leave the drawer and that was it and he couldn’t find his medals anywhere and we were hunting, the whole family were hunting and we couldn’t find the medals anywhere and then obviously you start to backtrack the last time you had them, you know, he was at this function a few months before and what suit were you wearing and to that suit but the suit had been to the drycleaners in which was the [unclear] dry cleaners I can remember that in Twickenham and suddenly we thought maybe they were in Dad’s pocket when they went to the drycleaners so we phoned up the drycleaners and he said, yeah, we got a set of medals here, they were in some suit somewhere and we put them in the drawer and it was my father’s medals including the Victoria Cross that had just thrown in the drawer at the dry cleaners [laughs] so Dad managed to recover them ready for the next function. But he never really gave them any thought, he just put them in the pocket and that was it, that’s what Dad was like.
CB: Right, we’ll just stop for a minute. Going back to the medical issues and the hospital experience, in Britain McIndoe was the man who was best known for his plastic surgery but there other people doing it, what did Dad think about the work done by the doctor’s there? Were the plastic surgeons identified in any way or?
DJ: No, no one in particular, he said that he was very, very well looked after, he did speak about a Canadian doctor who would work in the hospital there which always seemed a bit odd to me that you would have a Canadian doctor working in a German hospital but whether that was, he was brought in for a particular reason or not, I don’t know, Dad never really spoke about it more than that other than say he was very, very well looked after, he was in a pretty pitiful state, he must have been but obviously a very strong will and managed to recover
CB: Any idea of the number of operations they had to perform on him?
DJ: No, no, none whatsoever, I don’t know [unclear]
CB: The hospital itself where do you think that was?
DJ: I would say, well the target that night was Schweinfurt which it I believe quite deep in Germany so I presume that as they were shot down over the target or just after the target, bombing the target it must have been within that vicinity, as much as, that would be a guess obviously.
CB: When you said that Spink’s did an awful lot of research on it
DJ: At the auction of my father’s medals which was done by Spink’s in London in 2004 following the loss of my mother and the subsequent dealing with the estate which included my father’s decorations, they did quite a lot of research and supplied me with quite a lot of information including all of my father’s mission records which I have and gave me the information about the hospital that they must have got, whether they got that from the hospital themselves or from somewhere else I don’t know, they gave me the information about the hospital running out of saline and so but the Canadian doctor bit my father, I can remember my father talking about that and [unclear]
CB: [unclear]
DJ: I presume so, yes, yeah, however they used to treat them in those days.
CB: A bit largely experimental I imagine.
DJ: I [unclear], I mean, I do sometimes think my father must have been in so much pain because if you have very deep burns and they are exposed to the air is very painful. And at the time my father hit the ground, his gloves must have been completely burnt off, completely burnt through so he must have been exposed to the air, but maybe with his smashed ankles, only being able to walk on elbows and knees, badly burnt face as well, one eye closed, there was so much pain elsewhere that it sort of numbed the effect of the hands, I don’t know. And it was pretty cold as well if I understand it was April or so I think it must have been pretty cold out there so that may have helped as well, the cold temperature.
CB: So, he was clearly damaged shall we say in various ways, what happened to his eye? Did that recover or what was wrong with it?
DJ: Yeah, I think he just got a bad bash on it or something, I don’t think there was any shrapnel damage to it at all, he, it was just happened in the incident probably when he left the aircraft he hit something and bashed his eye, I presume, I don’t know, Dad never spoke about it but his right eye was completely closed, I mean, Chaz Bowyer mentions that in the book here when he hit the ground so I think that would have just healed and opened up as normal
CB: These sorts of injuries can stay with people for the rest of their lives and you talked about the fact that his head had some shrapnel in it
DJ: Yes
CB: What about his health of in later years? Was his experience in the war in any way a disadvantage to him from a health point of view later?
DJ: No, I don’t believe, if it was I don’t think my father would have said so and he was a man that, he didn’t really speak about the war, he never actually said the war had any effect on him at all, physically or mentally, it was a time when they just did their duty, he spoke a lot about the other aircrew, how wonderful they were, and with the fact that there was no memorial to these guys, that bothered my father a lot over the years, a lot and but as far as the war affecting him, no, he never ever said that it damaged him in any way, in fact I think he felt himself quite lucky that he survived and went on to have seven children, extremely lucky, he often said that he should have died at the age of twenty five [unclear] man
CB: Where do you come in the ranking of children?
DJ: I am number five, born in 1953, so, four were born between ’44, which is my brother, my eldest brother Brian was born on the night my father was shot down and then we have Pauline, Brenda, Peter and then myself and I was followed by Ian and Shirley Anne a bit later.
CB: When were they born?
DJ: Ian was born 1955 and Shirley was, came along a little bit later in 1961 so there is a bit of a gap there.
CB: So, what sort of house did you have to accommodate all these members?
DJ: Yeah, a big one [laughs], My father had a, he built it himself actually with another chap, he bought some land in Hampton Hill, Burtons Road, Hampton Hill in Middlesex off of a chap had a big house in Uxbridge Road he came down to Burtons Road, so he bought this large, large piece of land and on there he built a bungalow, a four bedroom bungalow which had quite a large front, [unclear] it was a very large bungalow and that’s where we all were brought up
CB: Had bunk beds, did you?
DJ: Yes, yeah, I mean, when we were younger certainly and we were all seven at home, yeah
CB: Was there quite a well regimented system operating for use of the bathroom?
DJ: Probably, I don’t remember it being any problem, I know that we used to have a separate shower in the bathroom so we used to have showers all the time, bath night was generally on a Sunday or something where three or four of us boys used to get in together, I can remember that, certainly three of us, the younger ones used to get in together, the girls used to get in together, it was no issue at all, I mean, I was amazed that my mother who cooked three meals a day for us all, breakfast, lunch and dinner, would come up with so much variety for us all, I can always remember thinking where, my mother must be wonderful to come up with all these different choices all the time but it’s obviously I mean the house was full all the time, there was always things going on so we shared you had three of us in one bedroom when we were growing up, three of the boys, my oldest brother Brian had his own room, you had two girls with another bedroom and then when Shirley came along, a bit later, Pauline was getting married and so leaving the house and so Shirley could take her place [unclear] in the bedroom, Brian at that time had already gone, he’d been married and moved on so, it sort of, it worked out well at the end
CB: What was your father’s occupation after the war?
DJ: My father joined JBR Brandy as a salesman, that’s what he wanted to do, travel, he wanted to travel, he couldn’t settle down any more and his hands were such that he couldn’t go back really to engineering as such, he joined JBR Brandy, he was then with them for a while and then he was headhunted I suppose you could say by the distillers company [unclear] John Hague who wanted him to join them as their troubleshooting travelling salesman so to speak whereas they had accounts that needed building up they would send in, were sending in Norman Jackson VC and that carried some weight in those days. And suddenly people would sit up and listen and that’s what they used, you know, they, he was quite well thought of in the company for doing that, so, that’s what he did, he worked for John Hague was he, for many years. Up until retirement and he retired at the age of fifty-three.
CB: Oh, did he? What made him retire so soon?
DJ: My mother has suffered some mental health, she had suffered a stroke at that time but recovered from it but subsequently had a stroke later in life that put her into a wheelchair unfortunately but that was in, my mother was then sixty and lived to the age of eighty two with that
CB: [unclear]
DJ: Yeah, never complained about it, just got on with it
CB: This was the quality of scotch, was it?
DJ: Probably was, my mother never drunk [laughs], she would have a gin at Christmas with a tonic and that was it
CB: It was just the fumes from the open bottle
DJ: Yeah, maybe, my father used to, he’d drink, I think in those days it must have been different because every meeting my father used to have they’d drink whisky, they would go to a meeting and they’d have whisky, and then they’d drive home afterwards you know and my father used to come home, he’s been stopped by the police before in the old days driving home or he’d drive home with one eye closed looking at the centre line in the road because you know he’d been working and have a few whiskeys and the police would stop him and it would be local police and they’d realised who it was and they’d just take him home, knock on the door with Dad, one of them driving Dad’s car and the other one in the police car with Dad in the police car and say, oh, we have Norman Jackson here and delivering him to our house [laughs]. Happened on a few occasions.
CB: And what age was he when he died?
DJ: My father would have been, it was one month to the day before his seventy-fifth birthday, I’m sorry, one month to the day before they day he got shot down, my apologies, he died on March the 27th which was four weeks prior to the day when he took off, which was April 27 1944 so it was a couple of weeks before his 75th birthday.
CB: Now we touched earlier on the delicate question really of what happened to his medals, so
DJ: Yeah, not that delicate at all
CB: Ok, so, mother died,
DJ: Yeah
CB: Your mother died
DJ: Yeah.
CB: Was that someway the prompt on of dealing with the medical, medals,
DJ: Yes
CB: What happened exactly?
DJ: What happened was we contacted the RAF Museum in Hendon which we felt would’ve been where my father would’ve wanted them to go to, so we contacted the museum, not Douglas actually, we weren’t dealing with Douglas at that time, Douglas Radcliffe at Bomber Command, we were dealing with the curator of the museum and we said that we’d like my father’s medals to go there and he was very happy to receive them and letters were flying backwards and forwards between him and then suddenly my mother’s lawyer, I was an executive of my mother’s will as was my sister Shirley, the lawyer contacted us and said according to your mother’s will there is no stipulation about your father’s medals other than, as this is written in, to be kept within the family or if not part of the estate, he said, this is where we have an issue, you cannot keep a single item within a family, it has to be considered as part of the estate, this is what he said, so he said, well, if we all agree to donate it, he said, well, the problem with that in law there is no precedent for that, you, I can only tell you what the law is, he said, now, if you all agree we can possibly do something. My oldest brother Brian who at that time, at that time felt that they shouldn’t be donated to the museum, that was where the issue was, the lawyer acting for my mother then said, well, they have to be considered as part of the estate, so we said, well, what does that mean? He said, well, they have to be sold, he said, and if they have to be sold you can sell them on a private auction where nobody knows about it but the problem with that is legally if the maximum amount of money isn’t realised for any asset of the estate, the executives of that will can be held responsible, this is he’s just saying what the law is, he says, my advice to you would be to go to a public auction, I said, we don’t really want to do that but that was the road we went down so we contacted, well he did, Spink’s, the only reason we knew about Spink’s because that’s where my mother, my father’s medals used to go for maintenance and that sort of thing and they used to do the you know dressing of them and [unclear], so he contacted Spink’s who then contacted us and we had to go and see them and have this, you know, this meeting and everything else and then we had the auction, the media found out about it as we knew they would but a lot more, there was a lot more interest than we really anticipated and including us on the BBC news asked me to do a bit for them and they interviewed me at the RAF museum there talking about it, my wishes which just they would go to the museum for ten pounds or something you know and we donate that to charity or whatever, to which the lawyer said [unclear] you can’t do that, anyway there we are, day of the auction, all of the family really buried their head in the sand, they didn’t want to know, I was driving along the motorway somewhere listening to the radio and the news came on and it came on that the Victoria Cross awarded to airman Norman Cyril Jackson had sold, had made a world record of two hundred and thirty six thousand pounds at Spink’s in London, I felt, it was an awful feeling, it really was and then I got a call from various newspapers asking which I there felt, thought was quite personal actually, what are you gonna do with the money? And I just said, I don’t want the money, don’t want anything to do with it, don’t want to touch it, and then the guy from the Telegraph phoned and I spoke to him and he said, you sound quite angry, I said, well, only the fact that this didn’t need to happen in my view and he said, well, what do you feel about it? And then the next day he printed what I was saying that it bothered me that this, it had been sold amongst much acrimony and this sort of things and [coughs] it was not an easy time, the money itself was, sat at Spink’s for a while [coughs], they then forded it on to any lawyers dealing with the estate and it sat there until we were told that it had to be divided up amongst the people who were named within the will, which were the family, I personally refused to have any of it, with prior to that, Penny and I had lost our daughter unfortunately at a young age and we decided that what we’d like to do was have a bronze plaque made because the Victoria Cross is bronze from a cannon that was captured during the Crimean War, a Russian cannon, even though, you know, I think since they decided maybe it was a Chinese cannon that was captured by the Russians which was then captured by the British but we thought it’s bronze so we’d like to have a plaque made in bronze for Lilly our daughter so we got a quota back then of a thousand pounds and we took a thousand pounds of that money to make the plaque and the rest left with the rest of the family who wanted to take it and so that’s what happened to the proceeds of the sale of my father’s medals. At the time I was a bit angry because I felt they should be in a museum in the public domain, following the sale it became known that Lord Ashcroft had purchased my father’s Victoria Cross and he actually wrote it was one of his favourites which I thought was quite nice but I was still angry because I felt it should be in a public domain, I was told at that time by Didy Grahame who was at the or ran really the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association at the Home Office that don’t be too bothered because eventually they will end up in the public domain, Lord Ashcroft has stated that to me, that’s what Didy said and now of course Lord Ashcroft has been involved in the creation of the Victoria Cross room at the Imperial War Museum in London which is where my father’s medals were on show with the story so that is wonderful and I give my full thanks to Lord Ashcroft for that, it’s wonderful, it’s all ended up, you know, ok in the end and they are where they should be in the public domain and with my father’s story which is good
CB: And how did the rest of your siblings feel about
DJ: Awful, even to this day, really Brian was held responsible in some ways for what happened and that was tough for the family to take really because of dealing with the media and in some way trying to keep from the media without lying about what was happening and the reasons for it, what would’ve been nice if the lawyers just said, ok, a majority decision here, that’s what’s gonna happen but Brian felt that they shouldn’t be going to the museum, he’s entitled to his opinion but it did affect family, the family bond for many years to come, it did
CB: It sounds as though you found yourself in the front line of this but what about Shirley who was the other executive, why did she
DJ: Shirley to this day doesn’t forgive at all, not at all, Shirley, I do, I live and let live, I move on, Shirley is a different [unclear] [laughs], she hasn’t really forgiven so you’re welcome to go and interview her if you like [laughs], Shirley no, nor my sister Pauline neither my sister or Brenda really, they [unclear] forgiven, tough one
CB: Yeah
DJ: But that, you know, there we are. Brian had his reasons and he was entitled to them, you know, not everybody thinks the same and I think if you have seven children you are bound to have some disagreements, somewhere down the line
CB: You don’t need seven to get disagreements
DJ: No, two [laughs] or one.
CB: We’ll just stop there.
DJ: To be sold, part, consider part of the estate or sold, that was it,
CB: Those were the options
DJ: That was the options, they were part of the estate which meant they were to be sold as the rest of the estate would be
CB: Right
DJ: Or kept within the family and you cannot as my sister was saying at the time, you cannot keep one item between seven, you can’t cut it up and have a seventh each, you could all agree to give it to one person or to donate it or something, but you need full agreement and if there is one person that disagrees it’s part of the estate, that’s it, now you can have one person disagree for whatever reason, whether you want to see it sold, whether you just don’t want the museum to have it, if there is a disagreement and not, it’s not completely agreed by all seven children, it’s part of the estate, that’s how my mother’s will had been put together by her solicitor which was wrong really cause Mom would have been a lot better off, cause Mom always used to say I would rather Dad’s, my father’s medals, Dad’s medals went to David, that’s what she always wanted because she knew I would do the right thing and but that was never in my mother’s will, other members of the family knew that and kept quoting her but the solicitor said, [unclear] black on white
CB: Legally.
DJ: No.
CB: No.
DJ: This, my mother’s will was done many years ago, been forgotten about really so there it was in black on white and that was it, it just [unclear] one person to disagree for whatever reason and it was part of the estate
CB: Now Brian was the eldest?
DJ: Yes, he was, yeah
CB: And he is not with us any longer
DJ: No, oh you? that’s right, yeah, we lost him this year.
CB: Oh, this year
DJ: Yeah
CB: Right. So, how did the family, the survivors as it were, all six of you feel about it then being on display in the Imperial War Museum?
DJ: Happy.
CB: In that room?
DJ: Very happy. Very, very happy in doing it.
CB: So, does that in a way create a closure?
DJ: Yes
CB: In the family?
DJ: Absolutely, it does. They really should be in the public domain, doesn’t matter where but they’re in the public domain
CB: Yeah
DJ: That’s it. They’re still the property of Lord Ashcroft
CB: Yeah
DJ: As they should, I mean, but, you know, there we are, that’s it but they’re in the public domain which is a good thing
CB: It created, as you said earlier, a good deal of media attention and the sale price was two hundred and thirty-six thousand
DJ: Yeah
CB: What was the expected price at auction?
DJ: One forty, I think
CB: Right
DJ: From memory, I think they were saying it should reach about one hundred and forty thousand, which when you divide it by seven is nothing, twenty thousand or something like [unclear] saying at the time is just ridiculous, going through all this for twenty thousand pounds,
CB: Yes.
DJ: Which I, was a lot of money then I suppose but to me in my head it didn’t matter if it was two hundred thousand it still would’ve been a no
CB: Going back to that extraordinary experience in the Lancaster, what process do you understand went on between the crew members with your father deciding or convincing them that he should get out?
DJ: It wasn’t a, I don’t think, as I understand it he didn’t need to convince them, he was the most experienced member of the crew anyway, it was his job as far as he saw to see that Lancaster return and the crew as well, he asked the permission of the pilot Fred Mifflin who was obviously the skipper of the aircraft, he told him he could deal with it and I think the bond between them all, Fred never questioned it, it was an incredulous thing to try and do but he never questioned it and so he just let him get on with it, that was it, deal with it
CB: When he went into the prison camp, then there were lots of people there obviously, do you, what understanding do you have of how he got on when he was in the prison camp, prisoner of war camp?
DJ: The only thing I really about, Didy Grahame at the Victoria Cross and George’s Cross Association always says my father went through hell as she said in the prisoner of war camp, how she knows that I don’t know, I know very little about my father’s time in the prisoner of war camp other than he used to talk about they were very hungry all the time. He also spoke about in the prisoner of war camp was a chap who they called Little Bader who had lost both legs, he was an airman, lost both legs and they were forced to march, I don’t think this was what’s known as the long march or whatever, they were forced to leave that prisoner of war camp and march to somewhere else towards the end of the war and my father carried that chap, the legless Little Bader as they called him, the distance from that out the prisoner of war camp they [unclear] to the next one which I thought was a pretty incredible thing when, you know, you had hands that had been burnt through, broken ankles and God knows what else, [unclear] he’d healed but you couldn’t have been that good, because you hadn’t been, nutrition was probably non-existent almost and you’d carried him and the chap that Dad had carried actually wrote an article about this because he then found out about Dad’s award after the war and wrote an article saying this was the chap that carried me from the prisoner of war camp to the next prisoner of war camp, which I think was basically to get away from the advancing Allies to move further deeper into Germany and that’s what, that’s my only recollection of anything to do with my father’s time in the prisoner of war camp
CB: Do you know what his name was?
DJ: I did
CB: Ok [unclear]
DJ: I think, you can look it up, I did know it, it’s recorded, this chap, Little Bader, he’s quite well known I think
CB: Ok.
DJ: I think he was a rear gunner, I think he’d lost both legs
CB: We are talking still about the prison camp, he would have been in hospital as you said earlier all that time
DJ: Ten months according to Chaz Bowyer, yeah
CB: Ten months. And the effect of the surgery and the convalescence will still be in the system as it were when he gets to the prisoner of war camp, what do you know about the medical facilities, of the medical [unclear]?
DJ: I know nothing about, if it was [unclear] I don’t know
CB: No
DJ: I know very little if anything about the conditions within the prisoner of war camp, I know my father said they were always hungry, I know he said he never ever, he had to wait until he got back to England before he had a pillow, so he used to sleep with his arm underneath the back of his head, that’s how they had to sleep, they had no pillow or anything, very hungry all the time, as far as medical conditions, facilities were concerned I don’t know, I would have thought they were pretty basic if at all, whether they had a camp doctor I don’t know, I don’t know, I’d have to check on that
CB: Ok. We’ll stop on that.
DJ: Did prisoner of war camps have doctors?
CB: Probably. German.
DJ: They would of course
CB: If they captured people, they would [unclear].
DJ: Right.
CB: Spoke earlier about the Canadian doctor in the hospital, what do you know other than that?
DJ: I’m not sure if it was a hospital, my father spoke about a Canadian doctor, now, whether that was someone who worked in the hospital in Germany with the Germans or subsequently was a captured doctor in the prisoner of war camp I don’t know, probably the latter would have been the case, I can’t imagine the Germans sort of bringing in a Canadian doctor to help them in their hospitals, pretty bad on the payroll I wouldn’t have thought so, so it’s more than likely he was actually in the prisoner of war camp and helped at the, after being discharged from the hospital and that is probably nearer the truth
CB: In view of what your father said, did he ever make contact with that man or try to make contact with him?
DJ: Not that I know of, no, no. Not at all, not that I know of. But bear in mind, I was born in 1953, so whether he did turn up at the house prior to my being born or a few years after I’ve been born, I don’t know, I don’t remember. Dad certainly never spoke about it, other than this Canadian doctor and that was [unclear] helped him
CB: Apart from his experience with the aircraft, what else did he talk about his being dramatic because some of the earlier operations he went on as in raids were fairly dramatic, what
DJ: Yes, he used to talk about Berlin, they had, his crew at 106 Squadron they did ten tours to Berlin, which was quite a lot
CB: Ten ops
DJ: Ten ops, sorry, ten ops, not ten tours, ten ops, my apologies, three hundred missions to Berlins, ten ops to Berlin
CB: Yeah
DJ: One of them I know because it is on the records upstairs, they were hit by flak and also attacked by a fighter that night and lost one engine so they returned with three engines from Berlin all the way back to Metheringham, their base in Lincolnshire, I know that, that’s the only one Dad really used to speak other than the rest of them which were just missions, he just, it was a job to be done, one mission paled into insignificance with another mission, you know, it was just one mission after another really, had he had the choice he probably wouldn’t have wanted to go on any of them, but they just did their job
CB: Just picking up on what you said earlier about the cohesion of the crew, they tended to speak from experience of interviews as the family, what about when they were off operations? Any idea of what they did in their spare time?
DJ: [clears throat] No. I know they used to drink together around, they would go to a local pub around Metheringham or go into Lincoln together. Other than that I don’t know, bear in mind that Fred Mifflin was from Newfoundland so his family would’ve been in Newfoundland so I suspect he’d been quite close to the crew, keeping them together and then the rest of the crew would have known that so they looked after their skipper and the rest from various parts of the country, so they would have spent a lot of time together as a family, a family unit.
CB: I’ll stop there again. Thank you.
DJ: Maybe my father always spoke about the rear gunner who was killed that night
CB: The time when he got out of the plane
DJ: Yeah
CB: Well he
DJ: Well, he, the rear gunner, Dad said, was injured in the first attack
CB; Oh, right.
DJ: He was hit. Now Dad said, he probably would’ve never survived a parachute jump, now whether that was the reason why my father decided to do what he did or not, I don’t know, now that may be the reason, he was very good friends with Fred Mifflin the pilot who was also killed that night, my father said or Sandy Sandeland the wireless operator actually said they did both manage to get out of the aircraft, he saw them, Fred Mifflin was, Johnny Johnson was near the escape hatch at the back of the aircraft, Fred Mifflin was released, he was standing up, ready to move away from the controls, the Germans say they were both found within the aircraft, Sandy Sandeland always said that they got out of the aircraft and they were killed on the ground, so there was a little bit of disagreement there about what happened and my father says, knowing how aircrew were treated when they were off for a bombing mission on a village or town or city, he believed they were killed on the ground but we don’t know, there’s another story that Fred Mifflin and Johnny Johnson were very good friends, Johnny Johnson was injured, couldn’t survive the parachute jump so stayed with the aircraft and tried to bring it down, that’s another story, whether it’s true or not I don’t know, my father didn’t know, he was not in the aircraft but my father always believed they were killed on the ground and not in the aircraft.
CB: Ok.
DJ: Was one of those things you could never prove either way, really
CB: Yes, it’s difficult to deal with
DJ: Yeah.
CB: Now, we’ve covered dramatic things here but there was some good sides so how did your parents come to meet in the first place?
DJ: My father, actually my mother told this story that the way they met was my father used to cycle to the engineering works which was in Richmond from Twickenham, my mother lived in Twickenham at the time and Dad used to cycle past her daily and whistle and then wink. My mother used to obviously totally ignore him and then there was a dance one night at a club in Twickenham and that was where my father saw my Mum and approached her and asked her to dance, I think my mother refused, my father wouldn’t go away, kept on asking and eventually my mother gave in and that’s where it started. That was it.
CB: Persistent man.
DJ: A man who knew what he wanted, I think
CB: So how long did it take him to
DJ: Well, that would’ve been in 1938 to ’39, just prior to him joining up. Bear in mind my mother was born in 1922 so at that time she would’ve been sixteen years of age, coming on seventeen, so a young girl. They married in ’42 when she was twenty. And it was just prior to the war
CB: And then the decision on getting married, how did that work? Cause he’s been away for a bit.
DJ: Yeah, he was sent away, I think they actually were quite close and got engaged I believe in 1940 if I remember correctly and then my father was sent to North Africa, Freetown, North West Africa
CB: Sierra Leone
DJ: Indeed and was there until ’42 and my mother didn’t know where he was, received the odd letter but that was it, gone, and came back in ’42, September, they got back together and the, arranged their wedding for Boxing Day of that year and that was it. Happy ever since.
CB: But most of the war, [unclear] after that ‘42
DJ: Yeah.
CB: Then they were, father was still around
DJ: He, he was in the UK
CB: In the UK, so, how did they live together or did [unclear]?
DJ: No, they
CB: They lived apart all the time
DJ: They, Mum lived in Twickenham, in Church Street, Twickenham.
CB: Right.
DJ: She had a flat there, which my father used to visit when he was off duty, all the time my father was on duty, he would’ve been stationed at the airfield at Metheringham or Syerston first and then Metheringham
CB: Yeah, she didn’t move up to Lincolnshire
DJ: No, she didn’t, she stayed in Twickenham, that’s where she was
CB: And then after the war,
DJ: Yeah
CB: He was still in the RAF
DJ: He was
CB: So, the same arrangement continued
DJ: No, well, bear in mind that my father came back at the end of the war in Europe, he then was still stationed in the RAF, my mother was still living in Twickenham. Come ’46, he left the Royal Air Force, they then took a house in Whitton, which is near Twickenham, a rented accommodation while my father was looking for some land to build a house and that he found in Burtons Road Hampton Hill not far from there and then built the bungalow
CB: What do you know about how he came back from the prison camp? Because he wasn’t in the long march, you said
DJ: I don’t believe the march that was spoken about was the long march, it may well have been
CB: No, that’s right. Yeah.
DJ: But I don’t know, I don’t believe it was [coughs], I’m sure my father would have mentioned that, I think a lot of people died on that march, I don’t think it was that one, sorry [unclear]. [coughs] What did he say about that? I can’t remember much about it at all
CB: How did he actually get back to Britain? Was he flown back or [unclear]?
DJ: Again, I don’t know whether he was on a boat or actually flown back, I don’t know, a lot of the prisoners of war were flown back
CB: They were in Operation Exodus, yes
DJ: So, it may well be that he was flown back but he never spoke about it and I never asked him the question
CB: Ok. Right. Well, David Jackson thank you very much for a most interesting.
DJ: An absolute pleasure, Chris.
CB: Just. Parents give advice to families and children all the time. So, what was your father’s what shall I say recommendation that you should do in life?
DJ: Well, one thing I can remember my father saying to all of us was that, just remember, you don’t have to prove anything to anybody and personally I never quite knew what he meant by that until we were at school when everybody it seemed wanted to challenge you or expected you to step up to the mark where a challenge was involved, this was even with the school teachers who, if there was a rugby game, football game, whatever, they would expect you to excel in what you were doing because
CB: Because of your father was a VC
DJ: Because of my father, yeah. And it really was difficult to live up to thatt a lot of the time, very difficult
CB: Right
PJ: You’re down?
CB: Well, we keep going. No, let’s just. Penny is here now, so let’s just get a bit of reflection on other things. What do you remember about your father-in-law, although you didn’t meet him very often?
PJ: I met him over about a two- or three-year period but the first time I met him, I knocked at the front door and he opened the door and he went, hello, who are you? And I said, my name is Penny and I’m here to see David. Just a minute, [unclear] over his shoulder and shouted, David! One of your girlfriends is here! That’s my first meeting with Norman Jackson. We had a few more like that afterwards, didn’t we?
DJ: Wonderful man!
PJ: [laughs] Oh, you want me to add that bit. Wonderful man! [laughs]
CB: And you did meet him again. And what did he say the second time?
PJ: Oh, I don’t remember the second time, I can remember
CB: Other times
PJ: I can remember a few wedding receptions, family wedding receptions where we went to where he’d rather stayed in the pub than gone to the wedding reception
CB: Right
PJ: And we had to help him out, didn’t we?
DJ: Yeah
PJ: We assisted him out of various pubs
DJ: He’d rather stay at the bar with his whisky rather than go to the actual function itself, yeah
PJ: Yes
CB: Well, he was a man who distributed lemonade as a whisky
PJ: True
CB: As a job
PJ: Oh, that’s a good excuse
CB: You’ve gotta have confidence in your product
DJ: Absolutely
CB: You must try it out
PJ: Of course
DJ: I used to [unclear] He was a John Hague man through and through, absolutely
CB: A man of great belief
PJ: He was
DJ: And conviction
CB: Conviction
PJ: He was a lovely man, very lovely man, nice family man, good heart
CB: How did, the two of you, what was your perspective of the lack of a Bomber memorial or a lack of a memorial to the bomber crews?
DJ: Well, I know what my father’s opinion on that was. Really, upset him quite a lot and personally I couldn’t understand why, I know a lot more about why now and even though a lot of people who come up with reasons why it shouldn’t have been put up need to really go back and relearn their history because their facts are wrong, totally wrong and it was shame that Winston Churchill really dismissed [unclear] knowledge with Bomber Command at the end of the war, I think that was a start a bit really but I know my father was very upset by the lack of the memorial to these guys and would’ve been very, very happy to have been at the unveiling of the memorial in Green Park had us talking when that happened but to wait so long after the end of the Second World War for a memorial to the service that had the highest loss rate of any of the services is unthinkable really, I can’t answer [unclear] just unthinkable
CB: Thinking of the history of this, bearing in mind the Germans were practicing in the Spanish civil war, what were the main things that stick in your mind about what the Germans did originally?
DJ: Originally by starting the Second World War
CB: Then the bombing context
DJ: I think that the bombing context of the German Luftwaffe, maybe the bombing of cities you could almost say happened by accident, Coventry was meant to be a reprisal for what happened with the bombing of Munich by RAF following Hitler’s speech in Munich at that time. The bombing of London was meant to be a mistake by one bomber that basically had navigation had gone wrong and ended up in the East End of London and dropped his bombs during the Battle of Britain but if that’s true then what happened in the Spanish civil war, places like Guernica
CB: Guernica
DJ: Guernica which was basically used as a proving ground for the bombing tactics of the Luftwaffe, in my view they always had the intention of destroying whatever they could destroy. I think that the Germans, the Second World War was the First World War almost as it evolved into was not like a normal war that beknown before it was total war and it involved everybody within the country, absolutely everybody. I do think that the Allies fought the Second World War as indeed the First World War with a degree of humanity. I don’t believe that the Nazis, I think for them humanity didn’t exist.
CB: You talked earlier about when father landed and by parachute and the reaction of with the comment Terror Flieger. Could you just for the record here explain what Terror Flieger, what they meant by that?
DJ: A flier that delivers terror. Probably in today’s terminology a terrorist. And I believe, and my father always understood it, these German cities were suffering night after night and so that’s how he understood it, as a person delivering terror, to people who as far as I’m sure, that man who lived in that cottage was concerned, they didn’t deserve it. Maybe he wasn’t aware of Germany’s position within the Second World War or the reasons for the Second World War. He knew what he was being told, whether that was the truth, who knows. But if the, where the Nazis were concerned, I doubt it. But I’m sure he looked at my father as someone that was pretty awful [laughs] and should, you know, should have been treated pretty bad, abominably really and not with any humanity at all. That’s what I think.
CB: And he’s unlikely to have known what was happening in London, Coventry, Liverpool, Belfast, Portsmouth, Plymouth, all these places
DJ: No, I don’t believe that at all, and I think we’re talking about a different time where people weren’t, where news wasn’t as readily available as it is today, I’m sure he would’ve been aware of the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the aims of Adolf Hitler, whether he considered the rest of Europe was to blame, the Allies [unclear] the rest of Europe, for what was happening in Germany towards the end of the war and it was ill deserved as far as Germany was concerned I don’t know, but I’m sure, when he said Terror Flieger, he meant that these people, these Royal Air Force during the night, at night and the American Air Force during the day were delivering terror that was ill deserved on the German cities. [unclear] sure was what he meant.
CB: Thank you.



Chris Brockbank, “Interview with David Jackson,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed December 6, 2023,

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