Interview with William Joseph Longhurst

Title

Interview with William Joseph Longhurst

Description

William Longhurst served as an engine mechanic through the Second World War. He was a member of the Hackney Wick Air Defence Cadet Corps before volunteering to enlist in the RAF after his seventeenth birthday. Following basic training at Skegness, technical training was undertaken at RAF Filton. Initially working on Blenheim aircfraft, William went on to gain experience on both Stirlings and Halifax’s. He provides a colourful account of his experiences throughout his service career, which ended when he was demobilised in the Middle East in 1947.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2018-04-07

Contributor

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

01:35:34 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

ALonghurstWJ180407

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

DB: This is Denise Boneham and today I am interviewing William, Bill Longhurst, and today’s date is the 7th of April 2018 and it is currently 14.10. Bill, would you like to tell me a little bit about your life involved with the RAF?
BL: Certainly. Certainly, I volunteered for the RAF when I was just turned seventeen and a half, because I didn’t want to go in the Army. I was, had been in the Air Defence Cadet Corps, 1552 Squadron, Hackney Wick for two years and had decided that that’s where I would like to go, so when I got, I went to Euston Road Recruitment Centre, volunteered, had my medical and was awaiting to hear, my calling up, but before I got my calling up for the RAF I had a calling up paper for the army, or so I thought for the army. When I got to the Territorial Centre at Leytonstone after I had a medical, I went to see the reception, reception party there and I said, ‘could you tell me why I’ve been, received these calling up papers to come here?’ They said, ‘well, because you have your calling up for the army.’ I said, ‘Oh well I’m not,’ I said, ‘I’ve already volunteered for the RAF.’ He said, ‘have you been, got your papers?’ So I said, ’No.’ So he said, ‘well evidently they don’t want you.’ So I got a bit annoyed at that and thought what could I do? Well I walked away from the person interviewing me and I got called by one of the other interviewers, which was the second one along, and he called me over and he said, ‘there is an RAF officer along the corridor, about the fourth door on the left,’ he said, ‘go and, go along there,’ he said, ‘knock at the door and have a chat with him.’ Which I did. When I went along and knocked on the door and was asked to go in. I said sure enough I said there was a pilot officer sitting at the desk and he said,’ Can I help you?’ and I said, ‘yes, very much.’ I said, ‘because I volunteered for the RAF, I said, ‘I’ve been in the Air Defence Cadet Corps, which is changed to the Air Training Corps,’ I said, ‘and they’ve just told me now that I’ve been called up for the army.’ So he said, ‘that’s’ ridiculous, we can’t have that can we? We can’t lose someone like yourself.’ So he took full particulars and sure enough, I got my call up papers for the RAF. I, when I called up, I said, I called up and had to go to Bedford, and Cardington at Bedford, and when we got there, I said most of the people who lived around London I said, were called up and put in the billets. And the corporal come along, sorted us out in groups and we was marched off to get kitted out, with a greatcoat only. And I thought well that looks funny, this thing, this greatcoat fitted me twice! So I said, I said to the chap ‘this not my greatcoat surely!’ ‘Don’t worry.’ He said’ ‘you’re only going to get your photograph taken. So the next thing we did, we went along, and the chap draw the number, he had the one, he drew my number 187459 and I had to carry this piece of board, I said and sat down and do me greatcoat up, and I said you know I looked ridic, stuck, had a big greatcoat. Anyway, held the number in front and was told you know, no smiling, just look straight ahead. The photograph was taken and that was that, that was my first day at Cardington. On the evening, the chap came along, and was a sergeant this time, and he said, ‘right,’ he says, ‘you won’t be, tomorrow morning,’ he said, ‘you’ll be leaving here,’ he said, ‘so we’ll be kitting you out first,’ he said, then ‘with the kit,’ he said, ‘and you’ll be boarding the train which goes from the, there’s a halt specially for recruits.’ And he said, ‘by the way anybody live in London?’ He said, ‘there’s a poss’, oh everybody put their hand up, I said that’s great he said where’s the aerodrome you’d like to be? Well, being I lived in east London, I thought Hornchurch. I said, ‘I’d like to be at Hornchurch.’ There’s another couple of chaps also wanted and they were all saying all sorts of aerodromes which surrounded London, couple of you’s going to be very lucky then tomorrow. So the next morning when we rose, we got kit and then we marched on to the square which was quite close to where the halt was, and the train came in and eventually we climbed aboard the train and off we took. All the names of the stations during the war was taken down, so we didn’t know which way, where we were going, so we went to the, went away from the halt and on to the main line station and we started heading away to wherever we were destined to stop. We carried on along the track for some miles but no one could see or could remember which way we were going, [cough] and eventually one of the chaps turned round and said, ‘I’m afraid we’re not going towards London at all, we’re away somewhere else.’ So we all guessing, had a guessing game until finally [emphasis] we pulled in to Skegness. Now Skegness was a, when we got off the train there we were then marched straight away to have a meal and when we’d had our meal, we had to then form up outside and the corporal was there, they were drill corporals, they picked us, sorted us into sections and we were marched off to various places were our billets. Now the first ones that we went to was in Drummond Road in Skegness and that was a four-storey house, ex, people, you know, people that went there for holidays, right next to a place called the Arcadia: that was a theatre. And that’s where we were until half way through our training when we was transferred round on to the Windsor Hotel which was on the sea front. Now that was very good there, very good, big rooms and we were in the front room down stairs which was evidently a dining room which had beds in this time. [cough] We had these, our vaccinations and other, other inoculations and I unfortunately got vaccine fever and I was confined for twenty four hours, or sorry forty eight hours, excused duty, which one of the members had to bring back my food because I was confined to beds for forty eight hours. That they didn’t like very much! About three days later we had our, we did a stint of drill on the sea front, different things, doing this drill, we were then told to go indoors, change for PT, PE, well when we get inside everybody is shouting and talking, you know, getting ready to go. Unfortunately we had no blinds to pull and curtains to close, and two WAAFs was walking by, happened to stop outside the door, window, and everybody says oh there’s a couple of WAAFs out there and we said you know, everybody was saying, ‘oy oy, go on, move along, move along,’ because we were in a state of undress, some of us. So a sergeant suddenly walked through the front door, and he said, came in and he says, ‘right you lot,’ he says, ‘you’re on cookhouse fatigue tonight.’ So he says, ‘no need for that rumpus, you’re only attracting more attention.’ So that was that. So we ended up in the cookhouse which was unfortunate for me because I do not like cheese, no way do I like cheese and what we had for tea that night was toasted, sorry, fried bread with fried cheese on the top of it. So it was, well I had the job of washing all the trays out, that was my job. The only thing I had to eat that day was scrape the cheese off the fried bread and ate the fried bread: that was it, so that wasn’t very good at all. Right, so, the training was very good, and Alvar Lidell was a radio commentator, talking on the news on the BBC. Now he happened to be called up at the same time as we were, and in the paper a couple of days later it said: “Alvar Lidell is in Skegness. This is Alvar Lidell, a photograph of him and this is the square and Alvar Lidell bashing it.” Because when he used to announce on the BBC he used to say, ‘this is the news and Alvar Lidell reading it.’ The next thing I was I went on leave from, after did my infantry training and I went on leave and after that, I had my seven days leave I was posted to RAF Filton as a trainee mechanic. We had two Blenheims on this station at Filton, which is a, belongs really to the RAF and the Bristol Aircraft Company. Now we had two WAAF flight mechanics at the time, and most of the time I did more or less things that they asked me to do, different things, and if they wanted help, anything shape or form, I used to help them to do that. I used to have to prime the engines which are underneath the engine lascelles and they used to have the trolley action, tell the pilot, the other one used to tell the pilot when he’d to turn the props. So, sometimes they were, it was okay and sometimes it was a bit dodgy because, when they used to prime the aircraft, where you pushed the priming pump in it used to push petrol into the spider which was on the top of the cylinders and the pilot at the same time was told to turn the propellors to suck the petrol up into the engines and switch the switches on, make them start. Sometimes they’d start straight away and other times they used to just bang away and it’d frighten the pilot because it didn’t start first time and he’d switch the engine off. Which was unfortunate because by this time the petrol in the intake had caught light, and naturally the petrol, as it was an updraught carburettor, underneath, the petrol used to run down and drip out into the pour, under the aircraft under, the engine. The first thing you could do was to take your cap off, hold it over the air intake, signal to the chap on the trolley act and tell the pilot to start the engines again to suck the flames up into the engine and you finished up with a burnt cap! Oh dear, dear, dear. Right well.
DB: I’ll just stop it for a minute while you think about it.
BL: Our aircraft was mostly, being A-Able it was mostly the flight commander’s aircraft. Consequently, If they had a special job for it, SOE or a special person, man or woman, to be dropped they usually got the aircraft. Right. One day we was on the airfield and there was an aircraft landed, two actually, they were Flying Fortresses. The Flying Fortresses they landed, came round the perimeter track, parked somewhere on the field, and one of their coaches pulled up. The coach, it come from the hospital which is the Cheltenham, there’s a hospital, American, across over at Cheltenham, and they’d come to see some of their buddies that been, were convalescing there, but some of the ground crew that used to fly with them, they came along and they started walking round the aircraft. So, one of them came, coloured chap, big feller and two others, came round and stood in front of our Stirlings and looked up and said: ‘By Gal!’ he said. ‘What an aircraft,’ he said, ‘Look at the size of it, beat Flying Fortresses hands down. Look at the size of it, what a babe, look at the size of that.’ He said, ‘how many guns in it?’ When we told him four, he turned round and said, ‘four,’ ‘yeah and they’re at the back.’ So he walked, they walked round and had a look. He said, ‘I can’t get over the size, can I go inside and have a look?’ So I said, ‘yeah, I’ll come in with yer.’ Cause I didn’t know what, you know, what they might do, so we went into the aircraft and when we come out the aircraft after he’d had a look round, he came out, put his hand in his pocket, he said, ‘‘ere, have a cigar,’ he said, he put his hand in his pocket, ‘have two!’ Right, that’s that one. A couple of days later we had a fighter, American Mustang, came round the airfield, landed. I think there was an officer, colonel, somebody, evidently come to see his friend or whatever, and this was his aircraft, he parked it up. They’d been doing some work on the perimeter track and they’d dug up part of it, not a very big hole, but big enough, and when he came back, he got in his aircraft, taxied round the perimeter track and unfortunately very, very similar to the Stirling, he’s tail down, when you’re taxying with your tail down you can’t see over the nose, so you have to look side to side, and he goes, taxies you know, from side to side around the perimeter track. Unfortunately for this officer, found where they’d dug the ‘ole! And he ended up in the hole. Well, you know, his propellor got smashed [unclear]. It stopped the engine naturally, so didn’t catch fire or anything. But when we went and got him, walked over to him to see if he’s all right, he said, ‘my god,’ he said, ‘I’m in bloody trouble now!’ he said, because he shouldn’t have been there. [unclear] And that was it, but I don’t know what happened to it. I think the Americans sent a motor and got it out. We had to get it out of the hole with our Coles crane and they come and collected it, took it away. We actually got on very well with all the aircraft, all the aircrew on it and they were pals with everybody. They was, had, some of them had got themselves a second-hand car but they didn’t get enough petrol to go with it and always needed a bit of petrol. And unfortunately, we could only let them have a hundred octane, but, what we used to do, we used to give them some petrol in a car, in a can and we’d water it down with some oil, not too much: it smoked, smoked out the vehicle, and we used to do that, we used to help them out a little bit on that aspect, you know. And every now and again you’d get somebody would come out with the glider pilots, they’re going out for the night, some of them used to have some big motors. So I said don’t expect, I’m not trading this aircraft for your flippin’ car, no way! So, but no matter who you were, I won’t mention the names, but I used to have the flight commander and it was from right the way down, if they wanted help that way, I used to climb up on the undercarriage sometimes if I knew that the aircraft still had to be refuelled and drain off five gallons and put it in the motor, you know for them [unclear]. Might be their last night. So, that’s, that’s the way I helped them. They were very good to us, they used to save all their flying rations if they didn’t want them. They used to have nuts, raisins, chocolate, different things, sweet cigarettes, corporal, sweet caporal cigarettes, lucky strike, you name it, anyway it was all the, they used to come because they used to be a mixed crew. We always had a mixed crew, I don’t think I ever had an all RAF crew. And anyway, that was my way of helping them and they used to take us out every so often, and say meet you down the pub tonight boys, we’re not on our ops, all right, all right, meet you down the pub, and they used to buy us drinks and give us all their rations, throw ‘em on the table and we have, have a good night out really. Yes, or, or, they used to say right off tonight, all together, anybody fancy going to a dance in the village or wherever, and they used to take us out there and it was very nice and handy because at least we had an officer and they were allowed out after midnight and they used to, can be driving the car come through the main gate and the corporals look down look in and say Flying Officer or Pilot Officer so-and-so and company and right through. [Laughter] It used to happen quite a lot actually. That one. One day we was waiting for something to happen, as it’s coming, certain parts of, area of the, Europe, were being, after D, right, after D-Day we had a, quite a few places and things to do that we was working every day, doing all sorts of things, we was taking more troops, dropping supplies, dropping petrol for cars in five gallon drums, for lorries I meant, and tanks and that. We were very, very busy all the time, twenty four hours a day of doing work, stuff like that. Most of, some of them was on the dropping more specialist troops to areas that were needed out there and also arms and ammunition. The ammunition they didn’t have enough of that type of ammunition, that went over as quickly as possible. [Whispered] I’d love another one. One day we was er, decided to go, we had a day off, we did meet a couple of WAAFS, there were three of us: three men, three WAAFs. We all had our hopper bikes and decided as it was a beautiful day we decided to go down and see the river Severn because it wasn’t far from the river Severn. So we went down there, spent the day down there, you know like visiting the pub and one thing and another, and unfortunately one of the WAAFs got a little bit tipsy and on our way back to the camp, on our way back to the camp it was an uphill struggle on the hill. Got over the hill alright, she was a bit slow, but as she got over the hill it gathered momentum, unfortunately the, the road was resurfaced, just been resurfaced. And the resurface them days was tar spray and sprinkling of small shingle on the top and a quick roll over with the steam roller. Well, this poor girl got going so fast she couldn’t guide her bike properly, whatever, her mind wasn’t looking straight over, but over she went and she landed on her knees, tore her knees and laddered her stockings or her legs, oh, what a shame, you know she was in a bit of a state, so we was just walking back to the camp. I’m going to tell you now about our times when we used to go home on leave. Ah, well, we didn’t always get a ticket to go on leave. We always had to jump ship you would call it. Well, we used to have a chap who was very keen on talking to us chaps because he worked in the Orderly Room so no excitement in the Orderly Room, [laugh] no excitement in the Orderly Room so what he did, he used to come with us, you know, come to the NAAFI with us, and talk to us and ask us different things in the RAF as you do, so I said we, I want to go home on leave, for a couple of days, is any chance of giving me a 295, he said yeah, will you stamp it for me? Which he did. Right, right our crew, oh dear, our crew crashed at, in France on D-Day, or just prior to D-Day and we had a new flight commander arrive, Squadron Leader Bunker. Now Squadron Leader Bunker, he’s a legend. He joined the RAF on a short term and in just 1938, 1938 and became a pilot when war broke out and he flew right up until 1945, about 1945, 46 some time there, I haven’t got the correct time, date. And he was flying back, he was, took over from 620, 190 Squadron lost their flight, their wing commander so as he was a squadron leader in, on 620, they made him up to the wing commander. He took charge of the squadron and he was taking, they were doing the same ops as we were and he was flying cans of petrol to Belgium and bringing back prisoners of war, ex-prisoners of war to England and landing them at Oadby in Leicester, in Surrey, Sussex or Surrey, Oadby. Now when he landed there, they are still on operation and they are helicopters, large helicopters are flying from there, on the same station. Now when he landed there, there was a two, the Stirling had two tail wheels, one tail wheel was punctured and they decided to take off from there to go back to Dunmow because they had something on at Dunmow and one aircraft started going along the runway, the wheel, because the tyre was flat, shimmied and as it was going along it was shimmying and it eventually it caught light, because of the heat, and naturally he didn’t know this and when he put his undercarriage up, the two tailwheels went up into the aircraft at the back. The rear gunner was still in his cockpit and the tail of the aircraft caught fire and exploded and blew the turret out and killed the air gunner as he hit the ground. The pilot then couldn’t control the aircraft and it was flying towards the village of Windlesham and he saw a, saw a games field and decided to make for that, so he made for that and could only put the aircraft down because it was aflame, he put the aircraft down in the playing field thus missing that town of Windlesham. And the town people put up and erected a big [emphasis] memorial for him and his crew, a man, Bill, ex-RAF man, decided to erect this memorial and did a lot of work for it, to this, and also he wrote to the church in Windlesham, commemorating this memorial, wrote to the church and asked them for permission to fly the RAF ensign at the church tower every year on the same day that the accident happened, and this was granted, and from that day to this on the anniversary the flag flies from the mast. Now I attended the memorial service and it was well attended by the CO of Oadby and other officers and representatives and included, his son invited me to the funeral and Janet and I we went down and we attended the funeral and we went to see a service in the Clement Danes church in Oxford Street, and we attended a service in there and also a meal of, in the – where the hell was it – we attended a meal in the Royal Courts of Justice across the road to commemorate it. Right, our next trip was to Fairford, the adj, the crew and the whole squadron moved from Fairford to Great Dunmow. Now when we got to Great Dunmow that was a different kettle of fish because Great Dunmow was built by the American Air Force, air force construction gang. Now they had aircraft built and up and running before we got there. So quite a few roads, pathwords, pathways were built, the only problem when we first landed, we found that their toilet arrangements were quite different from ours. When went to the toilets when we arrived there we naturally wanted to go to the loo, we arrived there we walked into the toilets and there was a row of WCs, all in a row, no doors, no particulars, nothing. So we looked at one another and thought what the hell’s going on here? There was urinals there, but there was, on the toilet, WCs no doors, nothing, no privacy whatsoever. So, we was all looking at one another and laughing. Eventually someone said what the hell is this all this about? You know. So I turned round and kept a straight face, and said well you know the Yanks, said they like to read their comics, I said and when they sitting next to each other and reading their comics and they’re nearly finished, if they finished the comic they hand it to the next one, I said and they pass the comics along. [laughter]. Right, that’s the end of that one. The tin huts were the same huts as the others. The name on our door was called the gold brickers, that was painted on our doors and I understand, I don’t know if it was correct, but I understand the gold brickers was the lazy buggers, so I thought well maybe it suits us, I don’t know, but it wasn’t a bad place, but we never got a lot of coal for our winter when we stayed there for winter, so we had to end, we end up robbing, doing a little bit of getting some from somewhere else. So the WAAFs were fairly close, but their coal was behind big wire cages, so one winter we was in this winter there and I said well we’ve got to get some more coal lads, we’ve got no coal, flippin’ freezing in here, we been freezin’ all day out in the snow and that so we decided to do a recce and a raid, so we went out about five of us, and we went out and we were creeping in the dark, behind the WAAF huts. I climbed over first, climbed over the wire fence and kept sorting out the small enough bits of coal that I could throw over the wire, ‘cause they were a bit heavy, I’m not a weightlifter. So course we did it, and we got enough coal to go back, when I climbed back over, to last us for about a fortnight. So there we were, happy as pi – as hell. The next time we decided, there was a corporal, a corporal fitter, his name was Corporal Chatterjee. Now he was an Indian unfortunately, for us, but he liked it in our billet so he stayed, and he picked a bed near the fire which annoyed some of us, right, so we was, had to have another raid so I said to the corporal, ‘we’re going to get some more coal.’ ‘Good.’ he said, I says, ‘and you’re coming with us. So he said, ‘I can’t, I’m not coming I can’t do that, I can’t come and start stealing.’ I said, ‘if you want to warm yourself up mate, you’re coming with us or you’ll make things very awkward.’ So anyway we decided that he was going to come, and he certainly had to come, he gotta come or else. Anyway, we was finished going out, in the dark, and it had been snowing hard all day and the WAAFs had slit trenches outside their huts and course the snow had blown and filled the slit trenches up, so we didn’t know where the slit trenches were, you where they were. So away we went, once again I hiked over the fence, started throwing the coal and we got enough coal out over the other side, then we picked it all up, put it on our shoulders, walked it back through the camp and all of a sudden one of the WAAFs for some reason or other, because the lights was on in the hut, she opened the door, out the back, opened this door, lights shot out the door and silhouetted the corporal and me with these flippin’ great lumps of coal on our shoulder and she let out one horrific scream. Well the corporal started to run, not following the footsteps that we took going and went straight down the flippin’ slit trench, dropped the lump of coal, didn’t know what to do, he’s screamin’ his head off down the slit trench, cause it came up just to his armpits and he’s screaming out: ‘get me out of here, get me out of here!’ So I said, ‘hold on a minute, no, no, no, no. Give us the coal first.’ ‘No, no coal, no coal.’ So I said, ‘we want the coal first or you don’t get out. Get out yourself,’ so otherwise they’ll know that we been and pinched the coal. So anyway, eventually he give us the coal, I picked it up, we yanked him out and away we went back, he says, ‘no more, me no more do that, no.’ But that was a funny thing that night. Anyway, stop that one, that’s it. Next time we wanted some coal, we asked one of the chaps that, we was getting a bit low over the WAAFs quarters so we decided to raid the officer’s quarters. So the officers quarters was up on a bit of a hill and we decided to go there [unclear] we thought we’d take, ask the chap going on leave that used to drive, one of the – what was it – one of the Crossley, one of the lorries that used to tow the gliders, it was a Crossley, had no, nothing on the back only the tow bar, and it used to have a big galvanised tank in, on the back with concrete in it to hold the weight down, keep the back of the Crossley. Right, so this time we’re gonna go with this. Can we borrow your Crossley? He said ‘I’m going home on leave for the weekend, do what you like,’ he said, ‘but don’t mess about with it,’ he says, So I said we’re just going to get some coal. So away we went. There was the driver, was the Scotsman, and myself and somebody else sitting in the Crossley in the front, and away we went. We went round there, found the coal, got into position, got as much coal that we could get that night in there, and we’re driving this chap used to drive the oil bowsers driving the Crossley, he’s driving back. Well as we come away from the officer’s quarters goes down a hill swung round sharply to the right, there was a tree on the left hand side with a branch had come about three feet off the floor, off the floor and went across towards the road. Well, the Crossley’s quite wide and he’s driving this thing down there and he’s hit the corner of the cab on the near side, corner of the cab, lifted the cab up nearly off the chassis and smashed the, smashed the window, the windscreen. Anyway, we carried on going, we got back to the camp, we emptied the coal, emptied the coal, went and saw the chap who’s nearly ready to go out of the camp on leave, he’s dressed now, and said ‘ere we’ve damaged your lorry. ‘If you don’t tell me,’ he said, ‘go and get rid of it, I don’t know nothing about it.’ So anyway, they got a bike, put a bike on the back, drove the motor over round the other side of the camp, parked it, and then, somewhere, rode back on his bike, and then turned round and didn’t say a word. When the chap come back off leave, looked round says me bike’s not, me motor’s not in the MT, MOT, MT, somebody’s taken it out of the MT. So he went up before the sergeant, and the sergeant said, ‘your motor wasn’t signed in.’ ‘Well,’ he said, ‘well I’m sure I did, I certainly took it in,’ he said, ‘I might have walked out and forgot to sign it in.’ Anyway the sergeant, it was damaged, it’s smashed. Anyway they had a court, not a court martial, they had an inquiry into it, and it finished up they said that he didn’t sign it in, they couldn’t find any record so he’s guilty and he got seven days jankers and a seventy pound fine. Now, he used to, he used to run bets on the camp so he wasn’t worried about the fine, that’s all right said he was just upset about the jankers! Where the Scotch bloke that done the job, he got caught, you know, they found him and he got five days in the cookhouse. [laughter] He said I wouldn’t have minded if I’d got the fee he says cause I had the money to pay for it! And then we had sailors on our camp to help us out and this chap that was, used to sleep next to me. Well I went, he went on leave and I was going out one night, when he went on leave, and when I looked for my shoes, I couldn’t find me shoes, I only could find me boots, two pair boots, I had pair shoes, and I looked searched everywhere tipped every place upside down. Anyway, it finished up, his kit bag was next door to me. So I looked in the kit bag and there they were in his kit bag. So I went to the MPs, and I says look, my shoes are gone. I said ‘I believe,’ I said ‘I believe,’ I didn’t say I know, said ‘I believe that this chap has gone home on leave, he was an electrician, he went home but I believe he might have gone home wearing my shoes.’ So they said all right we’ll send a couple of our MPs round. Tipped his kit out and there’s my shoes, they yours, I says yeah, they’re my shoes so I said, so he said put it all back and when he come back we’ll have him. So he turned round, he got away with it, because he turned round said he didn’t know they was in there, someone must have put them in there and that was it. We was at the camp one day, at Dunmow during the day about four o’clock, and all of a sudden there was a tannoy message: “All personnel report, 620 Squadron report to the, report to their aircraft immediately.” So we all went down there, my one was well out the way, my one was AA, was at the front. The bomb dump was down where, when we got there BANG! Thought what’s that, you know, then there was another bang, a bang went up, as it went up this one exploded in the air. The bomb dump was alight, yeah, the bomb dump was alight. So we had to get down to the bomb dump as quickly as possible and get the aircraft out the way because there was the, there was the stock, so we all raced as fast as we could to where the bomb dump was. I got into one aircraft, cause there was no one there at the time. I got in there, started the engine up on the internal batteries, started the engines up and the four engines was running and by that time the pilot came to the aircraft and he, I got out and he taxied it across to the middle, middle of the airfield out the way. In the meantime these flippin’ bombs were going off! So of course I went back, after that I rode me bike back to my dispersal to wait and see what else had happened and the fire engine from Dunmow, ding-a-ling-a-ling-a-ling, come flying round the corner, came on to the airfield, on to the perimeter track, drove round, got as far as my aeroplane, stopped, got off the fire engine, and they’re looking, and they’re going boom, boom, these bombs are going off and incendiaries are flying all over the place, all of a sudden I suppose they thought got to go and sort this out if we can and they took off and went down there. I don’t remember much about it after that, you know. We just went and sat in the flight office, was down in, down a hollow, that was what we had to do. Time I was on night duty on night flying, I was, my turn to see the aircraft off, me and the rigger. So we went, you know, got go down there. I used to have a Claud Butler bike, a racing bike and of a night time I, if I had time off, I used to put me shorts on, go climb over the fence with me Claud Butler bike which I could lift up, light, and go for a ride round the country lane and that was me, that was a bit of my pleasure. Well this night, this day, I go, I thought, the hopper bikes were heavy, so I got me Claud Butler, got it out, got on to it and pedalled going down to the aircraft. Get out to the aircraft, course as I said my perimeter track went round, and as it went round, it went down to my first one, was there, so I’m going round, and I’m going, now Claud Butler was racing bike had one break, fixed wheel, one brake and a nipple on the end of the brake cable, so I comes flying down and when I got to, saw it on the aerodrome, there, saw it, the four engines was turning over. Well I’m, now I’m the engine mechanic, so evidently some, you know, the flight engineer probably, the skipper said start it up and the rigger, because this time I’m bike, cycling like mad, I’ve swung into the put me front brake on and the nipple on the cable broke and I’m going, I went straight underneath the props on the starboard side, straight under the props, and nearly hit the tail plane that sticks out the back, there at the back, and everybody sort of looking up and sort of saying bloody hell, good job it wasn’t a Halifax. Talking about my Claud Butler, I was on duty crew another night in the Control Tower and I was it was our turn to look after any aircraft that was coming in, you know, or what, we’re sitting in there, in the Control Tower, nothing happening, and all talking there and all of a sudden we had a call: there was some Halifaxes that couldn’t land at their own base so they were being diverted to us. So the flight control came down, says right, we need somebody at the far corner of the second runway, we shall bring the aircraft on behind the follow me car, behind on the perimeter track, that person on the end there will turn the aircraft down on to the spare runway. We want another person at the end of the spare runway, not too close to the main runway that’s being used and stop the aircraft there and park ‘em one after the other so you know, you had time to come round and do it. So of course I went, I said I’ll go to the end of the runway, send ‘em down. My mate says I’ll park them. So I said right and away we did it. So I rode me Claud Butler round, got the end of the runway, we parked my bike on the end, on the far side of the runway because the aircraft are turning just before it, and I stood there and said right, once I’ve stopped them, turn the aircraft with torches and then went like this and he could see the one up the end of the runway and he’ll follow them. I come to the last, I come to the last aircraft and as fast as I walk backwards, he followed me, so I turned this torch, turning me right hand torch as hard as I could so that he’ll turn round: still following me, so I thought he’s not going to do it. So I stopped him, walked over to the fuselage, bangs on the back door, somebody came and answers me at the back door, he said, ‘what’s the problem?’ So I said: ‘The problem is, the pilot is not turning to starboard, he’s got to turn now, lock his starboard wheel and rev his prop to get round otherwise he’ll miss going down the runway, right you got that?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Right.’ I walk back to where I was, I was standing there like a twit and the pilot signalled to me forward so that one’s solid, this one this way, you know. He started to turn, started to turn, eventually he come round and he turned, eventually he comes round and turned and I’ve gone like that and away he’s gone. The follow me motor was behind and he said you want a lift back to the control tower? So I said no I says that’s all right I’ve got me bike here, I’ll ride over. Went over to pick me bike up and the flippin’ aircraft had run over it, he’d run right over the bike solidly and even clipped the pedals. It’s a wonder it didn’t burst his tyre! Yeah, he squashed it completely, useless, frame, wheels, buckled, the lot! So I had to pick the bike up, walk back, walk about what, three quarters of a bloody mile it is, ever so sorry, the other side of the runway, and when I got back there, so no good telling anybody as I shouldn’t have had the bike on the runway. So I had to dump that, and that was the end of my bike and my pleasure. We were all standing on the end of the runway one day, on the side and just watching things, aircraft taking off, one after the other, or whatever, and all of a sudden, this by the way is, we have changed from Stirlings now to Halifaxes, very careful. So we’re standing out there, this Halifax starts to take off and all of a sudden he got to the end of the runway and we kept wondering whether he’s going to stop or he’s going to go. Eventually he went, he just took off the floor, went across the runway, went across the runway, over the hedges and then bomb, ploughed straight into the field. We all ran over there see what had happened, didn’t caught fire or anything, went over there see what happened, the pilot’s, all got out, all standing around, pilot’s standing outside of his cockpit, on the wing, standing there, you know, and as we got over there we said to him ‘what’s wrong, what happened?’ ‘Oh!’ he said, the flippin’ ailerons locked on me,’ he said, ‘I couldn’t turn the ailerons he said to take off.’ So, anyway, within that time the engineering officer was turned up in his motor, he came up, walked across, got on, climbed up on the wing, ‘cause by now that’s on the floor, climbed up on the wing, looked into the cockpit and the I’ve never heard an officer swear so much in all me life! He turned round and he said what happened to the bloke, pilot says, ‘the ailerons locked.’ He said, ‘I would think so, they are locked!’ so the pilot said ‘what?’ ‘They are locked.’ What had happened was, on the aileron locks which clip either side of the steering wheel so to speak, on the, I say there should have been a piece of metal painted red and it was hinged on to the aileron lock to stop them going like that, wind blowing them and this piece of rod supposed to go on a seat to stop the pilot sitting on the seat. He supposed to take that, undo this one and that, and take it off, give it to the flight engineer and stow it in the stowing box that was, in a bag, but they were on the [unclear] and this piece was missing. And you know when I said, that whatshisname was in that magazine didn’t they, that was in that magazine so the pilot really [unclear]. Yeah, yeah, I don’t know if he got away with it, I suppose he did really, cause it wasn’t his fault, it was [emphasis] his fault, well it was the engineer’s fault ‘cause the engineer should have should have accepted it, put it in the stowage bag. I’ve already told you where I used to help ‘em out. I’ll tell you a quick one Dunmow, not a nice, not a nice thing this. I used to catch rabbits. What meat was naturally short during the war so naturally if I could get, take home any rabbits or anything like that for my mum, family to eat I would do so, I wasn’t living far from London so wasn’t a problem. So the Americans that were stationed at Dunmow lost a lot of aircraft, there was a great big heap of smashed up Marauders, and every Marauder had an aerial, stainless steel aerial, so that it was made of nice bond wire, so I went round and cut most, a lot of them off. What I did, I made some snares. I made these snares and put them around where these aircraft were damaged because I could see a lot of rabbit runs in there, and see little piles of poo, so I did this, I used to catch quite a few. And if I wasn’t going home I would give them to other men to take home for their parents to eat. So one morning I went round to see if I’d any rabbits in me snares. I come along and all of a sudden I could see in the distance, I thought what’s that, I said the next thing I saw was this dog. It was a grey dog, with, it looked like a Welsh terrier, little curl, grey curly hair. When I got close to him, I said he looked at me, he caught this snare, foot in the snare, and he looked at me and he wagged his tail and I thought well that’s good, he’s a little bit friendly. But he hadn’t been caught for long because he wasn’t rushing around or well, he was just sort of stood there like that, if to say I’m caught, you know. So anyway I approached him, and he was approachable, I just slipped it undone, and when I took his paw out, he just run around as though nothing had happened, he wasn’t hurt at all so I thought well that was brilliant, so anyway it finished up that the armourers, evidently he was lost, the armourers on the site, 620, they took him under their wing and he used to be their dog for all the time they was at Dunmow. But we used to take, take the windscreens out of these aircraft cause they was perfect Perspex. We used to cut them into little hearts, and fire ‘em, we used to cut the crown and the wings out of the button, put ‘em on there, put the hot heat on to it, and that used to melt into it, put a little loop on the end of it and buy a little chain, you know, not gold chain, I couldn’t afford that, but a chain and give it to girlfriend or somebody you met at the dance, you know. They used to like ’em. They used to make all sorts of brooches. Sometimes they used to find a cannon shell that was in all the rubbish, find a cannon shell. They, what they used to do then, used go in the site hut what we used to have was a vice what we used if we have to, you put the shell in the vice, wiggle it a little bit to make it loose, pull the bullet out or the shell out and then tip out all the cordite or whatever was inside, put the cartridge case back in the shell, get a piece, a little bit of wood and a hammer, put it on the end of the firer, give it a hit, fire it off so it made it safe and then we used to make a lighter out of them. That’s it. We used to have one rigger that used to be a very lazy person, and that rigger annoyed me because he was an elderly man, and how he ever passed A1 I shall never know. He used to cut mens’ hair for six p, you know, and I never let him cut my hair I wouldn’t do it if it was tuppence. Because, see he used to annoy me very much, he used to go on the site – he hasn’t got his bowl - the dispersal and he used to walk down the steps used to lead down the bank to the hut at the bottom and come in there and he’d sit, always was a fire if it was cold because they used to be, keep it during the night when they was, keep it alight night and day because you sleep there, wait for the aircraft to come back. Well anyway, this, this morning, he came up and he turned round, and he said, ‘Ah,’ he said ‘bloody hell it’s cold out there, innit, bloody, just come back, bloomin’ cold I don’t fancy going out there.’ I said and because it was warm inside the windows’d steam up, I said, he’s over, greatcoat on, I said he’d wipe his cuff on his hands on his greatcoat and he’d look out the window, he’d say, ‘ah well, airplane’s still there,’ open the Form 700 and sign his signature to say he’d done his DI to his signature. Now that annoyed me, I was always very, very conscientious, you know, people’s lives and that, anyway he’s said oh well that was it and sign it. So of course I went back out the aircraft and there were talking with a couple of me mates out there, we’ve got to teach this bugger a lesson, I said I know what we’ll do, so I went into the aircraft, I got one of the very pistol cartridges. I opened it up, I’m not quite sure of the colour: green, red, blue, or whatever it was, it used to be [unclear] emptied them out, I banged the cartridge on the end like to stop it explode off so it was safe, took these things, took ‘em down to there, I got a brick, a block or something, the old fire was burning merrily there, we got a lump of rope, tied it round the door ‘andle and tied it to something was outside, I can’t think what it was now, we tied it up anyway so he couldn’t open the door, and there’s only one door and we climbed up on to the top of the – what’s the name – on the nissen hut, cause you can, you could walk up ‘em. We used to have rubber soled boots on the aircraft, we used to walk up there, although it might be bit dodgy, and I got the pellets, dropped these pellets down the flue and put the brick on the top. Well! The colours that came out the top of the flue, where it’s coming out, shooting out all different colours, smoke, filled up the place, he’s screaming his head off in there. We had to let him out because the place got so full of smoke. Terrible it was, yeah. But he wasn’t a very happy bunny, yeah. [Laughter] One more, Sue, one more, right. We was in the NAAFI, used to be the NAAFI, Sally Ann it was, Sally Ann used to come round the dispersal and used park out underneath the wings of the two aircraft at the dispersal where the flight office was and see they used to open it up and sell the old tea and buns. We was there one day and the tanker driver pulled up under the wing, pulled up under the wing of the aircraft there, sitting there, talking, they was all talking round, eating and drinking and all of a sudden is that a flame in your cab? And he looked, he run round, he opened the door and somehow there was a flame in there, whether it come in from the engine or not we don’t know. So of course everybody’s running round like, there’s two thousand gallon tanker underneath the aircraft, so anyway, one of them went, we got fire, only a few fire extinguishers, we got it there, of course they got these fire extinguishers and one’s firing it through one door, and the other one firing through the other door and they’re getting smothered in foam! You know, anyway, it didn’t take long, I don’t know what it was, but it didn’t take long, whatever it was, it went out with the two fire extinguishers. All of a sudden, because it was an emergency they rang the fire brigade at our station, so of course they came flying round the corner, yeah, and the tanker driver got his tanker out just in case it sparked off again, backed it out away from the aircraft and these firemen on the cab, come flying round, jump off the fire engine, grabbed hold of some axes and went round, one opened the door, the other one opened the other door and two of them smashed in the front windscreen, ahhh, sorry, craaaash! Crash, windscreen. The tanker driver says, standing there he said, ‘what you do that for?‘ He said ‘well there’s a fire in the cab.’ He said ‘bloomin’ well we’d already put the fire out! What you do that for?’ Talk about cases caught, that’s it. First of all my overseas trip. The aircraft, the sixth airborne was going to Palestine to quell the vision, the trouble between the Jewish rebels, outburst, call them rebels because that’s what they were. As far as I’m concerned I’m very annoyed because when the Polish war was, when the war was started it was the Polish Jews and everything on that, I know Hitlers’ condemned the Jews, done all this against the Jews, here we are out there, it wasn’t the Jewish population’s place or the Arabs, it was split between them at the time and it was going all right. Somebody said that it belonged to the Jews and the Jews started to, causing trouble, and people were getting shot and injured by the Jewish population, that was the bit that got me. So I wasn’t very happy, against them, I’m not against the Jewish population, but I’m against them attacking us, which helped them as best we could and lost a lot of lives doing it. Right, getting back to this one then. We sailed out of, went first of all climbed on the trains and we went up to Liverpool, right, we thought well that’s it. So we was there at Liverpool, we was there for just before Christmas and they sent us home on leave for two days at Christmas. We’re back all the way up there, then they decided they weren’t going to let us sail from there, we’re going to sail from Southampton, so we’re all the way back to Southampton and we caught the Capetown Castle. Now the Capetown Castle was a beautiful [unclear] it was a Castle Line boat, and it was beautiful, it held the Blue Riband for the crossing to South Africa and England, so no, no never had an escort of any sort, mind you it didn’t need it at the time, but it never did have an escort during the war when it made journeys because it was too fast for submarines, they couldn’t catch it, so they didn’t need escort. Right, so we went over there and ended at Port Said. Landed at Port Said and we got off there, marched along the ruddy railway track looking for the passenger train. What passenger train? No passenger train. Cattle trucks! So we had cattle trucks, so we all had to climb on board cattle trucks, put our gear on the cattle trucks, and sit there with the doors open with your legs hanging out the door. Well I remember my dad telling me this about the wogs they’re right rogues and that, I had a cigarette, so I’d just lit this cigarette, and it was just lit so it was a whole cigarette more or less, and one of these chaps came along in his night shirt, turned round and looked at me, leant up towards me cause I’m sitting higher than him on and with me feet out the train, and he turned round, and he wanted me to light his cigarette, so he give a little tug, give a little tug on my cigarette wanted to sort of take it, making out it was too hard to light his cigarette so I let my cigarette go like a fool and off the rat he ran with my cigarette and I thought, oh Bill you’ve arrived. That’s that one. One of our things we had to do, when you have a kit bag you have a kit bag lock and if anybody knows a kitbag lock is a piece of brass or whatever, a straight piece of metal on a hinge and one piece that looped over, which you hole, put it one through the other and padlock it. Well, of a night time, we used to have to padlock our rifles or our guns or whatever we had, to the bed, through the springs of the bed, and put it through the trigger guard and then padlock it, so that nobody sort of blow in your face if you like, make you roll over and take your gun from underneath yer. So that was a bit of a bind because it was a bit of a bind because personally when I went on board the boat I had a sten gun. When I got off the boat I had a rifle. So there I am with sten gun pouches, with sten gun ammunition in it and when I got off the boat I got a rifle with no nothing, no ammunition whatsoever, no spare whatsisname. Anyway so they took, the first couple of days they took ‘em all, everything off us, but then again they handed them back to us, I still got a flippin’ rifle. Anyway, I used to, when we went on guard, and we used to have to go on guard, the only problem with the RAF, I found from the beginning, and the only bones I had to pick with them was, if you was on a squadron you was a lodger, when you went on a main station, all the people that was lodgers, the squadrons, they had to do all the guard duties, all the fire picquets, all the rough and tumble but when it come to night flying we had to do that as well. We had to do night flying, we had to do duty crew, things like that, there wasn’t a lot. Now I was against that all the time, that was my bugbear with the RAF. Right, now when we come to the RAF station, we come to there, we used to have to go on lorries from the main camp out to the dispersals and what they used to have was a thirty hundredweight lorry, a few seats in the back of that and behind that was towed a trailer and it was like the trailers you see the Germans carted round and the trailers sitting in the back with the seats running side to side and people sitting there with their guns in the middle. So we used to have to go out and that was, but then put your gun somewhere and start doing your work during the day. That the toilets, now there was something you’d never heard of far as I’m concerned. They were built of brick, they were built of brick, they had some sort of an L shaped sort of urinal wall, with the urinals on the side, you walk in, walk past that and you go in and round the centre of the thing, was a centre wall built with seats the same height as you would normally get it, but between them was set, going towards the centre with a, a pipe comes up and through the middle which vented it below, below and when you went to sit in there, there was a piece of timber used to come down on top of ‘em. When you wanted to go to the toilet you used to have to pick up this seat have one hand behind your back to hold it up. And when you get up it automatic flop down, to stop the flies. But it doesn’t stop the flies. Nothing stops the flies. So anyway one night I went round in to the toilet, my dad, you know was telling me bits about different things, and I’m in the loo and I’m sitting there, thinking of England and all of a sudden, I had an American torch at that time it was an UA, American military torch, and it was one that stood up, and it had a clip on the side and the light faced horizontally at the top, very bright, a lovely light and I used to take this torch out, put it on the seat side, and it used to, sorry, it used to shine up on the white wall and light the place up a bit, so not only I got the benefit, so did other people. Anyway, I’m sitting there one night, and it wasn’t long, I think it was about fourth or fifth day I was out there, I was sitting there, no one else in the bloomin’ place, all of a sudden sominck went past me quick [whooshing sound] oh some twit had dressed a sheet over him and run past, run round, round the toilet, run round, anyway it made me jump. I jumped up, the seat automatically flaps down, hits me torch, lost me torch down the toilet, gone down the pit. I’m now in darkness, what’s that in darkness, oh dear, so I lifted the seat up quick and I could see me bloody torch shining down the toilet! I wasn’t half fuming I was, I didn’t half give everybody a row, what you talking about, I don’t know about it, you know, that was it. That was that one. We was, we used to have to do a guard at one time, when it finished the Arab Legion took it over. When that happened that was fine, because sometimes if you was on guard they used to have a wire, a thing where they used to go into the dispersal, the aircraft were parked, they used to have wire going across, barrier and you lift it backwards and forwards. Well if you was on guard you used to have to stand there, well when they used to come and empty these flippin’ toilets, they used to, I’m not going to say how they used to empty it, but they used to, and the cart they used to pour it in to take it away used to dry, used to dry, and shrink, the timbers used to shrink, anyway, it didn’t leak, wasn’t a metal one or anything, one nothing plastic or anything, so it used to be, when it used to stop there, for them to lift the barrier, and we then shut the barrier, pfff, that whatever used to drop out of there it used to smell bloody horrible. Anyway that was that one. That was nasty. The little, another of my quickies. We used to have a little wog, we used to have water bowsers and they used to have taps along the back. Now they used to have big wasps, like, looked like bloomin’ hornets, big black, brown and black, white and yellow ones and they used to go up the tap, when you went out for [unclear] like that, bloody thing would come down the tap wash your mouth round so you had to be careful. But what the little, we used to call them, what the little wogs used to do, because they used to come on to the and sell you oranges and things like that, or scrounge what they can, and he used to come on and what they used to do, they used to get a matchbox, and they take their skull caps off - oh I’m sorry I’ll have to stop this - they used to grab their skull caps, grab these waspy things, get a matchstick, squash their bottoms out, take out the sting, but we didn’t know that, put them in these matchboxes, and then when it was tea time, or tea breaks, they used to come in, go in the middle of the room, and stand there talking and they’d see these wogs and that they used to undo these match boxes and throw ‘em on the floor. Cor! Can you imagine! Everybody used to run out of there, pick up all their buns and run out of there. Yeah. So that’s what they used to do. That was terrible. I went to Benghazi, when an aircraft landed there because burst it’s tail wheel, I went there to fix an engine, because it only done the tail wheel, somebody slung his sten gun over his shoulder when he was on guard and the bullet, block came down, took one up the spout, went through the aileron so we didn’t know whether it had damaged anything inside the aileron, so we had to send back an aircraft to Palestine for a new aileron. There’s that one. Cairo West, Cairo West we had, I told you about the lady, girls in the swimming pool, I, one minute I’ll get meself sorted in a minute. So I adopted a dog at Cairo West, it was a white, white alsatian, he was a beauty, brown nose, big white, big white, creamy white tail and everything. But he was, had got loads and loads of ticks. So what I had to do I had to go to get some petrol out the aircraft, put it in a can, used to go back up there, and I used to get hold of him, put him between me legs, and I used to get a matchstick, dip it in the petrol, touch the back of the whatsisname and it used to unscrew its neck and drop on the floor and I had to get them out of his ears, and off him wherever I found one, I got one, god rid and lovely. I had him for about two three months and someone come in and said the South Africans have just run over your dog. They used to have a little South African squad on the camp and they’d gone out on the beer that night and come back and they’d run over, went out looking for him and found him, and he was runover him, shame wasn’t it. That was that one. What was the other one? Sandstorm. We had a sandstorm, at, in Cairo West, blew all our tents down, blew our tents down, [laughter] that was a right do that was. Went to Iraq, Habanya, and then on to, oh, can’t think of the other one, Hibanya and the other one, can’t think of it. Went to Nicosia, we took, we used to take boats over to Nicosia, and we used to go over there to service the aircraft, while it was over there for a couple of days and they used to come back and we used to do that regular before leave, you know, you could come home. And that was that one. Well, I don’t think I can, there is others, there’s lots of others bits and pieces that I think’d make you laugh, but I think I’ve said enough. Well I was demobbed in Heliopolis, caught the bus, caught a tram [laugh], caught a boat for going home, it’s called the Duncott Castle. Now that was on the Medlock trip. Now on the Medlock trip they used to go from Mediterranean which was Port Said to Greece, Piraeus and then back again, do that trip then they used to catch a train right through Europe. Except for this time they was told, the crew was told that they was going home to England, but they didn’t, they came back to pick us up, right. So a lot of the crew jumped ship, says right, no, we ain’t going to do it, we’re going home, wo they went home. So when the boat got to Egypt, when we were on board they any RAF personnel is interested in being the ship’s crew, like to come to the ship’s Orderly Room we will sort a job out for them. So the electricians went in to the electricians, engineers were whatever wherever, I said well and my mate, come on let’s go, got be good. So of course we went there and when we got there we were made waiters, stewards, made stewards, looking after the senior NCOs and WAAFs, in there, and they were on board ship, they used to get special, waited, others used to have to queue up. Anyway, so that was it, so we went there. When we got there we used to say how do we wash in the morning, can’t get washed, oh use the crew, you’re crew now. We didn’t, when it was deck drill we used to be ‘we’re crew not RAF’, and when we were crew we are RAF, anyway we done all right out of that cause we used to, sugar was on the table, and we used to keep filling up bags of sugar, putting in the boot, we come back with sugar, tea, coffee you name it, plus the fact you used to have egg and bacon as much as you want in the morning, we did all right. We used to, we didn’t have to but went up in to the crew’s quarters to have a wash and shower, where the other blokes didn’t have any. Decent toilets sit on a what they say sit on a thing, water used to run through like that, sometimes somebody would light a bit of paper, put it in the water while we’re sitting there! Anyway that was that. Right. Now, when they, we finally came home, we found we got paid for it as well, they had to pay us, they had to pay us. We went to the, this, what they call it. I finally got demobbed at Preston. I said to the, it was, 1947 Winter, 6, 47 winter, February, beginning of February I think it was and I went to, I said to them right, they said throw your greatcoats over there, I said hold on I said, I think we can buy our greatcoats, I said I think I’ll buy mine I ain’t going out in that in just a mac and a suit, you know. So he said throw your greatcoats over there, so I said can’t we do it? No. They refused to let us buy our greatcoats, so we had to go home in the flippin’ whatsisname, freezing cold. Anyway the next thing I knew I tried for a job, tried for different jobs. I tried for a job in the gas company, cause I didn’t want to go in the building trade ever, tried for a job in the gas company, in the turbine house. I kept falling asleep, cause we did the night time, you know, and you couldn’t fall asleep cause there used to be a water tank used to have to keep filling up to keep the turbine working, the turbine an I keep falling asleep. I’m packing it in, I can’t have this. So I packed it in, that’s what I thought. I went down the labour exchange to see if they’d got anything and they said we’ve got a job at Ford’s. So funnily enough they let me pack it in there, so I went to Fords, got a job on the Ford V8 engines. But it’s not what I wanted, I wanted to be in the engineering centre, I wanted to be in the machine shop, want to be in the machine shop, says yes, okay, got the job, went there. Next thing I know I’m being traipsed along to a bloody whatsname line, Ford V8 assembly line, putting pistons in the piston block, and that was everything I don’t want take day. I see you ever see Charlie Chaplin in Modern Time, well I was in there like that, I shut me eyes go to sleep and I could see it, you know, monorail. Anyway, I finally finished up, I did leave. I said machines were made to help man and not make him a slave, I’m out of here and you can do what you like. Well anyway, he didn’t take any notice and I finally went back in the building trade and I stayed in that until I retired.

Citation

Denise Boneham, “Interview with William Joseph Longhurst,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 18, 2021, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11289.

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