Interview with Stella Jones

Title

Interview with Stella Jones

Description

William Jones was a wireless operator on 218 (Gold Coast) Squadron. He met his future wife Stella in 1946, who recalls the wartime experiences of her late husband. Having just left school at the outbreak of war, William initially worked in an Oxford ironmongers shop before taking employment with the Morris Oxford car manufacturer at Abingdon. The production line at this time was for tanks and Spitfires. William joined the RAF in 1942 and undertook training at various locations before qualifying as a wireless operator and being posted with his crew to 218 Squadron. The crew remained friends throughout their lives and Stella recalls some of their experiences that were discussed at reunions. Some amusing, such as when the bomb aimer inadvertently streamed his parachute when passing through the aircraft, when the pure strength of the pilot kept the aircraft airborne after being damaged, and adding their own sweet ration to the supplies they dropped when on Operation Manna. The failure of the authorities to award a campaign medal was a huge disappointment to the crew, and they were not happy with the issue of the Bomber Command clasp.

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2018-07-04

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

00:45:15 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AJonesS180704

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

PJ: My name is Pete Jones. I’m interviewing Mrs Stella Jones and Mr Kenneth Shearhan. And other people attending are Sandra Jones and Jean Shearhan. It is Wednesday the 4th of July 2018 and we are in Mrs Jones’ Home in Bladon, Oxfordshire. Thank you, Stella for agreeing to be interviewed for the IBCC. Stella, now tell me about your late husband William Jones before he joined Bomber Command.
SJ1: He was born in 1924. November 1924. And he left school at the age of fourteen. He went to work at Gill and Company which was a little iron monger’s shop in Oxford for a while. And then moved to a sawmill where he worked for a while. And then worked at the factory at Morris when it was Morris Motors then and I think they were working on tanks at the time and I think some Spitfires were made there as well. And he joined up in 1942 at the age of seventeen and a half. Volunteer Reserve as they were in those days and he was doing his training at Westcott which is in Oxfordshire which is quite handy because he could cycle home at weekends and at night sort of thing. Near Aylesbury. And I don’t know whether people know but after his training they were crewed up with the crew. And they were crewed up in a hangar and all the pilots were in one section, all the mid, all the gunners were in another section etcetera and they were just left to meet each other and decide who was going to be together. So he met up first of all with Harry who was the mid-upper gunner and they got chatting and found they had a great interest in swing music. Especially American swing music and that joined them together and they had that all their lives. And they were looking around for a pilot. Well, they saw the pilots in one area and there were two or three Australian pilots and one of them was about six foot two and very broad. Broadly built. And Harry said, ‘I think he’d make a good pilot because you would need someone strong to bring in these big bombers. Anyway, they went to him and said, ‘Do you want a wireless op and a mid-upper gunner?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ And that’s how they met the rest of the crew. They just went around talking and they met all the others. And they stayed together the entire time until they were demobbed. So they had the same aircraft which was B for Baker. Beanie Baker. And they joined the 218 Gold Coast Squadron which was stationed at Langar and near Bury St Edmunds. And as I say they were together the whole time. Now, amongst these things I think you’ll find Bill’s what do you call it? His logbook. So you’ve, there he’s got all his various trips and dates and everything else. And so I’m trying to remember [pause] Oh yes. They had one or two dodgy things. Nothing very exciting happened to them really. Just one or two things. They were hit once on one trips and I’m not sure which one it was and Winkie, that was Ronald [unclear] Wilson, the Australian and they called him Winkie called out. ‘We’ll have to bale out,’ and Bill said, he couldn’t find his parachute and he said, ‘Winkie, I can’t find my parachute.’ As Bill told you. He said it in his little sweet voice kept saying, ‘I can’t find my parachute.’ And Winkie being Winkie said, ‘My flaming oath.’ And he said, ‘We’ll have to do something about it.’ Anyway, he and the engineer who was Frank Haswell tried to control the plane which was banking and doing all sorts of things like this. Anyway, they had to call up to get help and Harry went up to the front and he and Winkie were struggling. And Harry said afterwards, he said, ‘If we hadn’t have chosen Winkie as our pilot we would never have got home.’ It was his strength, you know with him helping to keep that plane on course and then they had to divert. They couldn’t get back to Langar so they got, had to go to Syerston. I’m not quite sure how far that was away but there was a place called Syerston and they landed there and then went home. There was another little story where there was a training area but also when Colin, that was the bomb aimer went back to the loo at the back, over the main spar caught his parachute on something and it billowed out in the plane which caused quite an amusing episode. But there were all sorts of silly things like Bill being a wireless operator sometimes if he wasn’t being busy at the time he would sort of tune into something else and one thing he tuned into was, “Coming Home on a Wing and a Prayer.” Remember the song, “Coming Home on a Wing and a Prayer,” and they all appreciated that. And another little story he hadn’t been there very long. I think it was about his first or second trip out and they had, they had special signals every day which were changed. Which were changed for the wireless operators and he couldn’t work this one and, or he couldn’t find it so he got off the plane, they hadn’t started off and he went to someone else and said, ‘I can’t find — ’ and it was only the chief signal officer. It wasn’t just any old signal person that was there. It was the chief man. He wasn’t very happy with him. I can’t really think of many other ones. He came out in, he was actually demobbed in ’47 but after they finished they had to take various courses. Some of them took something nice and easy like library work which I think Colin did. Colin [Guy] or worked on bicycles which Harry did. Easy jobs which of course being flying crew they weren’t regarded very nicely by the regular RAF. They didn’t like these ex-aircrew because they didn’t have any discipline. You know. There was nearly no discipline. Anyway, he took a fitter course. A Fitter 2a. A Fitter 1 and a Fitter 2a course which I don’t know why he took that because I can’t think it made much difference to him and it was quite a, you know a bad, a difficult course to take. I think at one stage he was at Locking. You mention Locking because I remember writing to him at Locking so he was there at some stage during the career. And then at one time he was in charge of a lot of the German prisoners of war when they were cutting up these Spitfires that were no longer in use and they were cutting them up for scrap. And he said afterwards, you know what a waste. Those beautiful planes being cut up with all these acetylene things. It was dangerous work really, you know.
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: And he was in charge of about ten big German prisoners of war. And then as I say came out in’47 and then he went to work for [pause] no. He, he didn’t go for work for a long time because he spent all his money. You know all the money they got when they came out of the Forces and he just did nothing really for six months until all the money had gone and then his mother sort of said, ‘I think you ought to get a job,’ [laughs] So he went to work for [pause] oh it was a paper factory on the, on the Botley Road. Something. Not Bettercore but it was a name like that he worked on to do with paper. Reams and reams of paper that they were manufacturing. Whatever they were doing with them there. And then he went to work at Morris. We got married in ’49. July ’49 so he was what then? Twenty four or twenty five I suppose and he went to work at Morris Radiators. And then he went to Morris motors. That’s right. Morris Motors. And then he stayed on the line for a long time working on Morris Minors. And then we went to Australia for two years. And when we went to Australia of course the first thing we did we must look up Winkie. We had been, the odd letter had come occasionally and so we landed in Perth because we were on the boats. On the ships. We landed in Perth. Found Winkie’s name on the phone book. Phoned up and spoke but it was his ex-wife we spoke to because that was his old telephone number and Winkie had actually gone to America because he’d trained to be a dentist and he had gone to America for a course in dentistry. So we had missed him. He was there for two years so we missed him. So we went on to Brisbane and it was some years after we’d eventually moved here. Now, I’m trying to remember when it was when Winkie came over here. We had a letter to say he was coming over to England on a dental thing they were having in London. A special thing they were having because he was a dental surgeon by that time and his wife who, his third wife who was now, who was English actually lived in Manchester, had lived in Manchester and they were visiting her parents and hoped to get to us one day. So, having been in touch with Harry all these years, having seemed at least twice a year we’d either go to Coventry or they’d come to us. We’d been in touch all the years. We got in touch with him and so Harry came here. They went to the station to meet Harry. They were waiting because the last time they’d seen him he had black hair. Short black hair. You know. And off the train got this tall fellow with grey hair, long grey hair down to here and Bill said, ‘I’m sure that must be Winkie.’ They called out, ‘Winkie,’ and of course immediately he turned around. And it was, as he said with a bit of stuff on his arm, typical RAF sort of thing a bit of stuff on his arm and that was his, that was Margaret, his wife. And we had a lovely day. We all went out to lunch and we had a lovely day and of course all the stories came out again. I heard Winkie’s side of it. As I say having been to stay with Colin [Guy] and his parents in Workington. Taff, we’d been to stay with. Taff, the navigator, in Wales. We went to see the rear gunner who lived in Hastings. That was [Trace Hilder]. We went to see him. And who was the other one? The engineer lived in Dagenham. That was Frank [Haswell] We went there for a day to meet him. So I had met them and heard all these stories. And then Bill retired in [pause] when did he retire? 1988. Would it be ’88 or was that mine? ’88. He was sixty five anyway when he retired and we’ve lived here until he died in September 2016. So he’s been gone just about eighteen months now, I suppose. But he was very proud of his RAF days really. It meant a lot to him and the people he, the friendships he retained all that time, you know. As I say there’s only Harry left now. Colin [Guy] I don’t know. He went to Africa and then he oh, he died because we went, when we were staying in the Lake District we went to visit his, oh well what was his home in Workington and his parents had died but we saw his aunt and she said Colin had gone to Africa. Unfortunately, he died about two months beforehand so we couldn’t even get in touch with him. But he used to write quite often. He did write to us after he got to Africa and then these things drop off after a while don’t they? As you say. And I think unless you can think of anything else he’s told you that I haven’t said. Or — [pause] Mars bar. Yes. Dropping the Mars bars on Manna.
KS: Oh you heard the story. I didn’t even know you even knew about it like.
SJ1: There’s not much I didn’t know about those things.
KS: No. I understand. Anyway, the only thing I meant —
SJ1: Those things that went on in Leeds when they had, before I knew him.
KS: We won’t have that Mars bar story Stella [laughs]
SJ1: No. But that was funny. That was —
KS: They would all melt.
SJ1: Yeah. But the funny thing was, the strange thing was they know how Bill kept his sweet ration and his Mars bars to himself. And the fact that he let it go very gingerly. That was a great thing.
SJ: So tell us that about the Mars bar situation?
SJ1: Oh, didn’t you hear that? Oh, well when they, when they were on the when they used to fly over Holland for Manna. When they flew for the Manna operation and they were dropping official sort of food and things for them the crew dropped their sweet ration and things and they said Bill actually let his Mars bar go with a little parachutey thing they dropped. They dropped his Mars bar which is quite a thing.
KS: Ration.
SJ1: Yeah [laughs] oh dear. So anything else Jean that you remember?
JS: Oh gosh. No. I can’t really remember. The time before at gran’s house. That’s all I remember Bill.
SJ1: Oh yes.
JS: You know.
SJ1: Yes. He was brought up in, how well would you know Oxford? Very well. You do. St Ebbes. Littlegate Street. Well, he was born in number 4 Littlegate Street which was two up and two down and there were six children and he was the youngest so he was very spoiled as you can imagine. And he had a wonderful childhood. A very very happy childhood. Poor as they were and they were poor.
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: Really poor.
KS: Yeah.
JS: Definitely.
SJ1: I mean, an outside toilet.
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: And no, no taps inside. You know, really. Really. They would never be allowed to do it today.
KS: No.
SJ1: But he remembered his childhood with great fondness and his mother was [pause] that’s, that’s his mother [pause] She was a lovely lady. He always said, ‘Mum’s a lady.’
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: And —
JS: I remember gran was always smiling.
SJ1: Oh, she was, wasn’t she?
JS: She was always happy.
SJ1: That of course was, was Bill in later years. That was about [some] years ago wasn’t it? I don’t know quite remember when that was taken.
JS: Do you want us to pass these over Stella? These are —
SJ1: Oh, I’m still talking about the thing aren’t I? I’m just trying to remember any more stories. Oh yeah. That’s Bill. That’s Colin [Guy] the bomb aimer. A very attractive young man. That was Taff, the navigator. That was [Trace] the rear gunner. That was Harry, from Coventry the rear gunner.
JS: Can’t really make out —
SJ1: That was Winkie. As you can see he was a big fella. And that was the engineer. Frank. Frank [Haswell]. So a lot of the photographs are in here but these are the big ones.
JS: I’ll come to all that [unclear] stuff really.
SJ1: And there again we’ve got the same. They’re in their flying uniform there and that’s Beanie Baker.
KS: Right.
SJ1: You can see the actual bear on it. A big photograph. We had a big oil painting done by the chappy that used to do the oil paintings at Morris Motors for the, doing the cars for the executives there and they used to hang up in the wall. And Bill knew this bloke and he from all our photographs —
KS: Yeah. Yeah.
SJ1: He drew, he painted an oil painting of the Lancaster itself.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: And he had a book full of clouds that we could choose to have the clouds, all the clouds coming behind. And we had this, and it was a big big painting. It was on the wall and then when we realised we were getting a bit older we’d maybe do something about it and we gave it to Harry’s youngest son who was very interested in all the stories. And we gave it to him but before it went Ken took a photograph of the plane for us.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: And he made a —
KS: A plaque.
SJ1: A plaque with all their names on it.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: And their nicknames because they all had nicknames.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: And the dates and their rank and all that went to Harry’s son David. And so we now, I’ve just go the photograph of the plane but the colouring isn’t the same. The colour’s sort of gone.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: Over the years, really. So I have got that. But it’s a pity you didn’t see the original because it was a beautiful painting wasn’t it?
KS: Yes. It was a nice painting.
JS: Definitely.
KS: Yeah. It was nice.
SJ1: Yeah.
KS: And, yeah, the plaque that I made, being in the tool room we had engraving equipment you know because we engrave pantographic and me and a couple of the chaps there we went to town on it and we built it. It was about as big —
SJ1: Yeah.
KS: As big as this.
SJ1: It was lovely.
KS: In brass.
SJ1: Yeah.
KS: With all the names engraved in it with the dates and their nicknames. The whole thing. And that was pinned on the —
SJ1: It came underneath didn’t it.
JS: Underneath.
SJ1: On the wall.
KS: Underneath the thing with the thing and I don’t know where that ended up at all.
SJ1: Well, it was supposed to have gone with it.
Yeah. It should have gone with it but —
SJ1: But they said they couldn’t find it.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: It was there.
KS: [unclear] well, no. They made it.
SJ1: Well, I know you made it. Yeah. Yeah. So they, he came a long way really from Littlegate Street to here really.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: He was very proud of being here. He used to say, ‘We’re so lucky to be here.’ You know.
JS: Absolutely.
SJ1: Yeah.
JS: Yeah.
SJ: So can I just go back? You say when he was sort of in the Gold Coast.
SJ1: Yeah.
SJ: What did he do on the Gold Coast?
SJ1: Oh no. The squadron was called 218 Gold Coast Squadron.
SJ: Oh, sorry.
SJ1: Because they originated apparently there. Before they did the Lancs was it Stirlings? I think Stirlings before ’43. I think they had a lot of store. When did they start using Lancs? About ’42 ’43 didn’t they? But before that, I suppose ’41 I think the main planes were the Stirlings. And I think the squadron originated in Africa as the 218. And it was the 218 and we used to have a reunion. Well, they had a reunion every year. Marjorie Griffiths, who had been a WAAF she started a reunion with all the people who were in the squadron and for years and years and years they had this every year near Bury St Edmunds. I can’t remember where, the name of the place. Anyway, two years, we went along for the last, almost the last two years we went and there were hundreds of people. People would come from Africa there and from America and from Australia. Would come every year to meet everybody, you know. And she had it in the grounds of her, she had a big bungalow and some lovely grounds and she had a big outbuilding in which she had all the photographs and all the memorabilia. And Bill had a lot of his, these photographs in here he had blown up this size and sent them and they were all on the wall. That’s another story. And somebody came. We had a photograph of one of the planes that blew up on take-off. Gosh. I can’t remember his name now. And Taff, who had a little Brownie —
JS: Yeah. Those little cameras.
SJ1: Camera. Because they weren’t supposed to use cameras really and he took a photograph of the wreckage there and that was on there and somebody came and went to Marjorie and said, ‘Who took that photograph?’ Because it was named obviously. What it was.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: ‘Well, Bill Jones and he’s here.’ So they brought him over and he was the only person that got out of that plane and he’d been very badly hurt but he got out of the plane. He came up to Bill and he nearly cried on Bill’s shoulder because it was the first time he’d seen that plane and all the others perished and he, and he was badly injured. But for him to see that photograph. It was the only photograph ever taken of that and everybody knew that story. The name’s right gone out of my mind and it was something I knew so well at one time.
JS: Yeah. Yeah.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: Yeah. So that —
KS: It was the engine caught fire or something went with this plane and it, anyway at the end it, some of the bombs that were on board exploded.
SJ1: Yeah. It was a dreadful thing.
KS: And that’s why the whole thing was blown to smithereens.
SJ1: Yeah. I think he was —
KS: And there is a picture in here, I think.
SJ1: Yeah. There is.
KS: Of the remains.
SJ1: There might be because I expect he had it blown up so that they had the bigger picture.
KS: Yeah. Yeah.
SJ1: We’ve probably got the little one in there.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: Probably some of those things will bring back other stories by the time I’ve looked at them again. It’s been a long time —
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: Since I’ve looked at those photographs.
KS: Well —
SJ1: But —
KS: Do you want to look at them now or should we —
SJ1: No. I’m just trying to think if there’s something about the reunion.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: The one we did the next the year we didn’t go Marjorie managed to talk to the RAF about getting a flypast and she they had the, they had the last, you know the City of Lincoln fly over and that must have been a wonderful moment because you know to see it come over and they were all there. That would have been lovely. But we didn’t see that and I think the next year she had it but but she lost her eyesight and it was, and she had to well they had, they had magazines every month which we’ve got them here haven’t we?
KS: I’ve got them there.
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: With stories.
KS: We’ll get to that eventually.
SJ1: Yeah. We’ve got the stories of all sorts of people who I’ve never heard of but some I have because I met some of the crews there. There was one complete crew were there for the years we were there. That was the last remaining complete crew. Because all the others, people had died off or whatever. So the story. And then they eventually went. But all these wonderful stories about what happened on their missions, you know. Or ops, I should say.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: He got annoyed when people said missions.
KS: Ops.
JS: Ops.
SJ1: On ops. Yeah. And, yeah and they, yeah she had to give up and they amalgamated with Mildenhall which I don’t think 218 Squadron were very happy about that. They felt they were on their own but they had to I think. So they said did you want to continue to contribute now you’re with Mildenhall? And we, Harry and us, we said no, we didn’t. Or Harry and Bill said no. They didn’t bother. So that was about the reunions. So Ken, is there anything else we’ve got there?
KS: Well, we’ve got, we’ve got this photographic album of his and there’s some pictures from right back in the ‘40s that was taken.
SJ1: [unclear]
KS: I don’t know quite how to —
SJ1: Can I have just a look now? Sort of see —
KS: Wait a minute. What was this? Yeah.
SJ1: Oh, yeah. Let me.
KS: I just want to take that out.
SJ1: Yeah.
KS: I can’t remember what that was.
SJ1: Yeah. Now, that was drawn by Harry. Harry drew that. That was supposed to be Bill. He had a big bottom in those days and his hair and everything. So Harry drew that so we kept that. Obviously that was his training. Oh gosh. I don’t know where he is now on that. I’ve forgotten where he was. I’d have to go through the whole of that. So we’ve got his flying clothing card. We’ve got his sergeant, well he’s five foot nine then. He ended up about five foot seven. He lost two inches, look. A group of would be flyers. I mean he’s written all sorts of stupid things amongst these but I mean there are some interesting.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: “In my younger days,” he’s put. Oh yes. So there’s all these various photographs of them which again, which are going to be quite interesting.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: More of the plane. There was the little, there was the bear that you know Beanie Baker that was drawn for them on the side of the fuselage. No. That’s not the one. It would be. Oh, Tubby Spears. Tubby Spears buys it. That’s right. That’s it. Tubby Spears. Everybody knew about Tubby Spears and that was the only photograph ever taken of it. Well, as far as we know.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: And they had that. And she had these photographs in this museum place. I don’t know what’s happened to all the photographs they had there. That was when they were mucking about. Oh, that was Chedburgh. Chedburgh that was it. Langar was Chedburgh wasn’t it? Sergeants mess thingummy bob there from Chedburgh. Subscription card. Medical thing. Have you got his thingy? I’m sure he was on a charge once. I’m sure we’ve got that somewhere. Oh, and there’s some photographs there which would be quite interesting. I’m not quite sure what they, they were probably from Taff. They must have been from Taff, mustn’t they?
KS: Well, some of these are. Well, I can’t see them from here. Some of them was bomb damage that had been inflicted.
SJ1: Yes. That’s what they are, Ken. Yes.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: Or a bomb. Oh, that’s right. The bombs sink the Scheer. On reassembling in air crew. That’s probably where they, I don’t know. Anyway, that’s quite an interesting little. Well, the eighth, there was a book called, “The Eighth Passenger,’ By Miles Tripp. And the eighth passenger was fear apparently. He wrote this book and he said the eighth, I don’t know why I’ve got written that down here. Probably so I could get hold of it I suppose because that was my writing. But they were all the passengers on this particular trip by this particular op by Miles Tripp and he said the eighth passenger was fear.
JS: Was fear. Yeah.
SJ1: That’s interesting.
JS: Yeah.
KS: There’s a couple of things there. When you look at it, when you talk about the, looking at it the other day and I had it all figured out. What was that there?
SJ1: Must have been one of their trips because that was on his —
KS: If you look at that one that was the one he told me about. That’s like a football pitch down there and you see there’s a bomb crater right in the goal. They called that a goal. It’s right on the line and right between the posts. You can make it out can you? You see it up there.
SJ1: Yeah. Yeah.
KS: Yeah. Well, there you go. Lost it again going around.
SJ1: I wish I knew where they were.
KS: There.
SJ1: Yeah.
KS: There’s the crater.
SJ1: Yeah.
KS: And that was there and then there was —
SJ1: I’d like to know where the, where the photographs were though.
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: He didn’t write on —
JS: He never wrote that down.
KS: More bomb damage there. Yeah. That’s his service medal thing or something there. More of it there. And then there was service medical thing. Another one there on the wall there.
SJ1: Yeah. I’ve shown them that.
SJ: Yes. We’ve seen that.
KS: There was, there was one there.
SJ1: Oh, have we got his logbook here somewhere, Ken?
KS: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I was just trying to see what I was saying but I can’t. Anyway —
JS: Let Stella have it then. The logbook.
SJ1: Pass it on.
KS: I’m just getting it out now. This was, this envelope was in that thing. It shows you some details of where the, you’d probably make more sense of it then me.
SJ1: Maurice Gardner. That was Maurice Gardner was the person that painted the painting wasn’t it? 218 Gold Coast Squadron. Motto — “In Time.” Oh yes. They’re motto was “In Time.” Formed. Oh, it tells you all about it. It was formed in Dover 1918.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: France. [unclear] France. Beaumont, France. Oh, it wasn’t done in —
KS: It says on here, “The history of 218 Squadron 1918 to 1945.”
SJ1: Chedburgh. Chedburgh, Suffolk. December ’44 August ’45. Disbanded in ’45.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: Oh yes, that tells you all about the 218 Squadron.
KS: Yeah. That’s what he’d written on the front you see.
SJ1: That’s what I wrote. Yeah.
KS: You wrote.
SJ1: I wrote. I know my writing. You could never read Bill’s writing.
JS: No. [unclear] writing.
SJ1: That should go with that shouldn’t it? [pause] The Bomber Command clasp. Oh, he wasn’t very happy about the clasp.
JS: No.
SJ1: Disgusted, he was. Disgusted.
JS: I think everybody in Bomber Command was disgusted with it weren’t they?
KS: Do you want me to pull that open it for you?
JS: They wanted a medal.
KS: You’ve got that end there. That’s —
SJ1: I don’t know why he kept it really but he just kept it for the disgust. “Compliments of the Under-Secretary Of State for Defence and Minister of Veterans. This veteran’s badge presented to you in recognition of your service.” It’s a wonder he didn’t throw it away isn’t it?
KS: I think you pull it or push it or do something with it.
SJ1: Not worth opening is it?
KS: I think you need a little knife or something to get in there.
JS: There’s probably an easy way of doing it.
KS: These are the [pause]
SJ1: No [laughs] There’s not an easy way to do it.
KS: Not that anyway. That says on the back what they are.
SJ1: Well there you go.
JS: Oh, that’s, that’s the one Bill painted.
SJ1: The clasp.
KS: Yeah.
JS: That’s the [unclear]
KS: That’s the ordinary. That’s the War Memorial.
JS: Yeah. War medal.
KS: France and Germany Star.
SJ1: Yes.
JS: It’s just so sad that, you know he never —
KS: What did you do then?
PJ: Yeah.
KS: I’ve been pressing that. I’ve pressed it. It wouldn’t work for me.
JS: Oh, no. You don’t. I don’t know.
KS: You must have stuck your fingers up.
JS: Yeah. You do. You press it. Yeah. See I did it quite easily.
SJ1: France and Germany Star.
JS: Yeah. Seen it. Yeah.
PJ: Let’s have a —
JS: What a lot.
JS: Push it in. That’s right. There you go.
KS: That’s a straightforward ’39 ’45 Star.
SJ1: That’s right. Gosh. I suppose there’s thousands of those about anyway. It’s not [pause] I wonder what’s happened to his logbook? Because that’s the one he always, whenever he was talking to Harry on the phone he used to get the logbook out and say —
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: ‘Do you remember such and such a journey?’
KS: Veterans Agency or something. The man with the medals.
SJ1: Oh, that’s with, yeah. That’s just the stuff with the medals isn’t it?
KS: [unclear]
JS: So, where’s the one with the logbook in?
SJ1: Don’t say we’ve lost it. There it is.
JS: There you go. Give it to Stella then.
KS: It’s a rare thing isn’t it?
SJ1: Well, it would be. Yes. Rather like so everything was logged and entered here. I’m sure he had a charge somewhere, you know. Will Smith. Everybody knew Smith. Terrible chappy in charge. Wing Commander Smith. Not a liked man.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: Anyway, that’s the log book which is very important [pause] Perhaps I’ve seen these, you know. Halifax 2. Halifax 3. What were they doing with Halifaxes? Take off and so and so. Nuremberg. That’s something about Nuremberg on here. What’s that one then?
JS: Oh, that’s the photo isn’t it of —
SJ1: No. No. That’s another. That’s the Grand Slam. No. That’s not theirs. It was just a photograph I think that the chappy that did it had a photograph of the Grand Slam which were the three.
KS: Yeah. I’ve just —
SJ1: Maurice Gardner’s dramatic painting of a Lancaster bomber receiving twenty two thousand pound bomb designed by the late Barnes Wallis. So that might be an interesting thing for them to keep, mightn’t it?
KS: This was, this was sent to him.
JS: Yeah. That was —
KS: That was sent to him.
SJ1: Wireless operator 460 Squadron in an Avro Lancaster.
JS: Look at the front Stella. Look at the front. That was, that was —
SJ1: Oh yes. That was his —
KS: Do you remember?
SJ1: Yes. That was —
KS: That picture of where, that’s not him. That’s what it would look like.
SJ1: Yeah. That’s right. Jean and Geoff found it didn’t they?
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: Another Jean and Geoff. “Will this bring back any memories for you?” That was just his set. Yeah.
KS: Any idea of this?
SJ1: Oh, I’ve got the, I’ve got the other one of that. That was him when he was training.
JS: Oh dear. Yeah. Yeah. That was nice. That’s a good one.
SJ1: He said he couldn’t smile. He’s smiling. He always said to you he couldn’t smile.
JS: No.
SJ1: He was like Alan Ladd, ‘I can’t smile.’
JS: He was, he was ok when he was younger but it was when he was older he never used to smile did he?
SJ1: Not very often.
JS: No.
SJ1: You didn’t see him laugh out loud or smile.
JS: Yeah. Yeah.
SJ1: He could. He could smile. He had lovely teeth.
JS: But in his younger days he was fine, wasn’t he?
SJ1: Oh, he was lovely. He was lovely. Why do you think I fell for him?
KS: This has got, this has got quite a bit of stuff. Look. Conditions of release authorisation. More release or —
SJ1: That ought to go with it didn’t it because —
KS: More release stuff. More certificate or something all to do with releases.
SJ1: The Grand Slam. That should go with that shouldn’t it?
KS: Let me show you when you get back.
SJ1: It must be awful to sort of lose, you know. Lose it completely. You know, go into a, in to the, you know for it just to go into the scrap. In to scrap material, wouldn’t it?
KS: Somewhere in this lot, I don’t know where it ended up there was the —
SJ1: This had better go with it all. Yes. That had better certainly go with it.
KS: There was the clasp you know. The Bomber Command clasp.
SJ1: We’ve got it.
JS: Yes, we’ve got it. It’s there.
SJ1: We’ve got it.
KS: Oh, you’ve found it.
JS: It’s there. We’ve looked at it. We’ve seen it. Yeah.
KS: I was looking through it myself.
JS: Yeah.
KS: There’s so much stuff there.
SJ1: No. We’ve got it.
KS: I knew it was in there.
JS: It looks cheap compared with the other ones.
KS: You’ve got to press that at the end. Push it in.
JS: And then pull it.
JS: That’s it.
SJ1: Why have we got all things with the Halifax. Halifax, you know. We don’t, we didn’t know anybody with the Halifax.
JS: There you are.
KS: Yeah. That’s it.
PJ: Is that it?
KS: Yeah. Put that in there. I’m not sure if there’s that many around. Well, there will be a few. This is the, I’m trying to figure out what this blooming thing is.
JS: That’s his service record.
KS: [unclear] in air temperatures.
SJ1: That was about an attack on Nuremberg so perhaps, nothing to do with 218 Squadron I don’t think. That must have just been just some —
JS: Stella might know what it is Ken.
KS: I don’t know.
JS: It’s all stuck together.
SJ1: It is isn’t it? Forecasts and air temperatures. Oh yes. It must have been very important. And various routes and —
KS: Yeah. I think this is something similar.
SJ1: Of interest to somebody who knows something about it. I bet Taff gave him that, you know. Better put that with it because it probably is historically important.
KS: Put that with it.
SJ1: 218 Squadron. Captain Allardyce, Navigator. Oh yes. Taff. It’s Taff’s. That’s right. He must have had this. That was the navigator. That must have been the navigator’s bits and pieces but as he was the same plane and that was his own navigator they should all go together then shouldn’t they?
KS: We’ll sort that away.
SJ1: But now we’re going to put it all together.
KS: No. That —
SJ: Is there any other, is any other stories you’d like to say?
JS: Oh. Not unless, Ken. Ken’s probably got more because Bill used to talk to Ken. I mean not so much to me.
KS: [unclear] There was one of those pictures in there. If you examine it you’ll know what I mean because it’s taken from a window of a Lanc and in the distance you can see all these little tiny black dots which it says was the flak as they were flying over the target. That’s in there. In that photographic book there’s a picture of that. So it shows you what they were facing really, you know when you see that. Dreadful. This, now we get into this which is [unclear] I know. As is say the 218 had this reunion every year and these are the newsletters that they published after it and sent a copy to Bill. So he’s got all these newsletters. Well, I don’t know if you’ll want to go through it all.
SJ1: Wonderful. Wonderful stories.
KS: Pardon?
SJ1: I say all these wonderful stories about different crews.
KS: Well, I tell you what. I’ve read some of this and it’s, you could sit through a couple of weeks reading it. It’s that interesting. If we just, I’ll take this out at random look. You know. And you’ll see what, what you’ll be up against if you try to plough through it. What does that say?
JS: Don’t you try and read it. Let Stella read it.
KS: Oh, don’t start that. Shut up. Gold Coast Squadron Association. November ’34. “Dear all,” and then it goes on in the newsletter and it’s got the whole page and then whoever wrote these. Look. Tonnes of it. Tonnes and tonnes and they were all the same. Look at it. Pages of it.
SJ1: They were originally done in a proper thing. In the end they were doing them like this but they were originally sort of done in proper.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: He’s got on this one, “Page 7. OTU Westcott. We were there.”
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: Something about when he himself was in, at Westcott.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: So, on page seven. And they used to write little poems and they’d tell you all the people that had died or you know, had passed on or whatever.
KS: Well, all the experience. There’s a wealth of information in here.
SJ1: Yes. There is.
KS: Of what was going on, you know. “Frank has now returned to the squadron but then he needed a long recovery period and his place in the crew had been taken by a new wireless operator, Ron Partridge.’ And then it goes on. “April ’44. We were attacked three targets to France. Then began training to use a new type of Gee called GB.” Whatever that is. “This will enable the navigator to direct the pilot to within a few yards of a position on the ground to allow bombs to be dropped.” Goes on. All this lot are full of that sort of stuff.
SJ1: This is all history. I mean.
KS: It is.
Yes. it’s all part and parcel of the history of 218 Squadron. Yes.
JS: Absolutely.
SJ1: As I say there was one crew, I can’t remember which one it was —
KS: Yeah. And then —
SJ1: Full crew.
KS: And also —
SJ1: We couldn’t keep them all but most of them we kept. Somebody would be interested in them I should think, you know.
KS: [unclear]
SJ1: Sometimes he wrote on the front if there was something important like he did on that one saying that —
KS: Here we go this is the reunion.
SJ1: Oh gosh. Let me see.
KS: Reunion of 218.
SJ1: Honeysuckle Cottage at Bradwell Heath.
KS: July 1997.
SJ1: Honeysuckle College, Cottage. That’s where Marjorie Griffiths had the reunion. Bedwell Heath in Suffolk. So these were, oh, that’s Harry. Harry must have been with us then. And that was Bury St Edmunds. There was something. That’s where we stayed while we were there. At the Bury St Edmund’s hotel. The Angel Hotel at Bury St Edmunds. That was where she had the reunions. In the grounds of her cottage. These are all the people in there. And also when we were there there was a photograph there and a bloke came up to Bill and he said, ‘You were with, you were with [unclear] Wilson’s crew.’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘I was in charge of the ground crew.’ And there’s a, we’ve got a picture of the crew with the ground crew in front. That’s how he’d found it. He’d seen a photograph of himself and the ground crew.
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: Sitting in front of the crew. I think that must have been one of the photographs.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: And he was in charge. He was in charge. His name was Balls. Somebody Balls.
JS: Balls.
SJ1: And yeah. So that was quite interesting. You should meet him there. That was me and Bill and Harry. That wasn’t Harry. That was somebody else. Eunice. Oh Goonie. We called him Goonie. That’s awful. We called him Goonie Balls.
JS: Getting confused now.
SJ1: That was him. That was a chappy, the ground crew chap and he looked after their Beanie Baker the whole time they had it. That was another interesting feature. That’s Marjorie being presented with a bouquet. I think that was Eunice. Harry’s wife.
KS: Oh dear. Lost the lot there. This is an absolute wealth of information. It really is.
SJ1: From Harry.
KS: It’s experiences of war. A crew talking about it.
JS: That one there where you said flying over —
SJ1: Yes. We weren’t actually on that one.
JS: No.
SJ1: We didn’t go to that reunion. But the following year he actually had the fly over.
KS: Yeah.
SJ1: Which was rather good they thought.
KS: And the —
SJ1: It was quite nice seeing those again. The reunion ones.
JS: Yeah.
KS: It’s got there about an English country garden. There appears to be a bronze figure of a pilot on that when I looked inside.
SJ1: Well, it has got on the back what’s happening here.
KS: Just a teddy bear.
SJ1: 1997. That’s a long time ago wasn’t it?
JS: It is a long time ago.
SJ1: The two gunners and a chap from California.
KS: There you are. There’s a picture of Harry.
SJ1: Harry Fisher. Nothing, not Harry Haswell. Not my Harry. Not Harry Horton I mean.
KS: Another Harry.
SJ1: Not Harry Horton. No.
KS: Another one [unclear]
SJ1: Two gunners and a chap from California. Oh yes. Harry met another gunner. That was right. They met another gunner. Another couple of gunners. So they were sitting there and they were from California. They’d come over from California for the reunion. So they’re all quite interesting you know if anybody ever saw them and found [unclear]
JS: That’s right. Yeah.
SJ1: As I say when people walked around the museum and saw the photographs they’d say, ‘Oh, where did you get that from?’ And Marjorie would tell oh so and so got it or whatever.
JS: I wonder what happened to all, like you say the ones that she accumulated.
SJ1: I don’t, that’s what I’d like to know.
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: Whether it went to Mildenhall because it was quite a big sort of out building you know and the walls were plastered with all the wonderful photographs.
JS: She had family as well. So whether they took on the —
SJ1: Yeah. She did. Yeah, because her daughter used to help her. I think her husband was a bit disabled but her daughter used to help her there and they laid on wonderful teas. And people would stay the weekend and then they’d go to church service on the, at Chedburgh the next morning. On the, yes on the Sunday morning. And they had a big party on Saturday night you know in the village hall. The only thing was they had a little local group playing all the tunes which they thought was wonderful because it was all the swing music but we thought if only they’d used the proper records with the original artists.
JS: Oh right. Yeah. Yeah.
SJ1: Like Harry James and all those you know. It was a bit pathetic but nevertheless it was the music. They were using all the same songs but it wasn’t quite the same as having the original artists.
JS: Artists.
SJ1: You know. They could have had records. It would have been much better really. Yeah.
JS: Yeah.
SJ1: But I can remember seeing Harry and Eunice jiving. You know, it’s funny to see older people doing a really good jive, isn’t it?
JS: I know. Yeah.
SJ1: You know. We didn’t because Bill wasn’t a very good dancer.
KS: I’ve just found another hidden piece.
SJ1: I saw that.
KS: Did you?
JS: Yeah. They’re from Harry. A letter from Harry after the reunion saying what he thought about the reunion.
KS: I only saw that bit.
SJ1: Yeah.
KS: But this has got, all these pictures have got on the back what they are.
SJ1: Yes. Yes. I know.
JS: Stella wrote it all on there.
KS: Yeah. I realise that.
SJ1: Yeah. I wrote it on.
KS: Two gunners and all that lot.
SJ1: Yeah.
KS: So that’s another record of 218 Squadron.
SJ1: This was all 218 isn’t it really. Yeah.
KS: Well, that’s what he was in, wasn’t it? You know.
SJ1: Yeah. So that’s really the story.
KS: That’s about it isn’t it?
SJ1: His life. But I’ve lived it. Do you see what I mean? I’ve lived it from [pause] when did I meet him? ’45. And he’d just, yes. He’d stopped flying then and you know so he wasn’t flying but he was still in there for another two years which he hated of course. Oh, he was at Newmarket and he went to, yes he went to [unclear]
KS: I’ve got to present you with something. A bag to put it all in.
SJ1: Oh, I like that.
KS: I said I bet you won’t remember to bring something.
PJ: Right then. I’ll —
SJ1: Do you realise you’ll have a nice empty case, Ken to put things in?
KS: Yes. I’ve just got my —
SJ1: Oh, your medal. Yeah.
KS: The one that — apart from that [unclear]
SJ1: Oh yes. That’s right. No. That’s right.
KS: It’s empty. My job’s done.
SJ1: Your job’s done.
PJ: Well on behalf of the IBCC, Stella.
SJ1: Yes.
PJ: Kenneth and Jean. Thank you for letting us interview you today. Thank you.
JS: You’re welcome.
KS: Lovely.
SJ1: You’re welcome. That’s very nice actually. Thank you very much.
KS: And if —
SJ: I got through it.
JS: You did very good Stella. Well done.
PJ: That was very good. That was very good, you know.
JS: Yeah. Well done.

Collection

Citation

Peter Jones and Sandra Jones, “Interview with Stella Jones,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 28, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11144.

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