Interview with Reginald Lunn


Interview with Reginald Lunn


Reg Lunn was living in Fulham and working as an apprentice printer when he volunteered for the RAF. He had wanted to be aircrew but he was colour blind and so failed the medical. He joined as an engine fitter and was posted to 48 Squadron at RAF Wick. He mostly worked on Sunderlands and Catalinas. In future postings he went on to work on Defiant and Dakota aircraft.



IBCC Digital Archive




Julie Williams


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00:17:19 audio recording




ALunnR161103, PLunnR1601


MC: This interview is being conducted on behalf of the International Bomber Command Centre on Thursday the 3rd of November 2016. The interviewee is Reg Lunn and the interviewer is Mike Connock. The interview is being conducted at the [deleted] Ok Reg. What we’ll, we’ll go on with what we were talking about is that you, you tell me you were —whereabouts you were born and when.
RL: Hmmn?
MC: When and where were you born?
RL: I was born in Fulham, London SW6.
MC: That was in —
RL: 1922.
MC: Yeah. Yeah. And then, and what was, whereabouts did you go to school?
RL: I went to what they call Fulham Central School. A very good school. And I was there when I passed the scholarships there. And, and then —
MC: Enjoyed those school days then?
RL: Pardon?
MC: You enjoyed those schooldays then.
RL: Oh yes. Yes. Yes. No regrets at all. No.
MC: Yeah.
RL: No. As I say no regrets to more than six years in the air force.
MC: Yeah. So how old were you when you left school?
RL: How old was I?
MC: How old were you when you left school?
RL: About fifteen and a half.
MC: Yeah. So what did you do?
RL: I left early. I left early to start an apprenticeship. Yes.
MC: Yeah. What? Doing what? What was the apprenticeship?
RL: In the printing trade. Yes. Letterpress. Yes.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
RL: Yeah. On a, on a big one. [unclear] big machines. Not the, not the small ones.
MC: Yeah. Yeah. So, the, so what made you choose to join the air force then?
RL: Oh. Most of my schoolfriends. They, they were in the air force. Unfortunately a lot of them got killed on operations. I used to go home on leave and my mother would say, ‘Poor Don was killed in, on operations.’ Yes. And that was that.
MC: So, you, when you joined the air force you went straight into ground crew. You selected to —
RL: Oh yes. Yes.
MC: Did you say you’d applied to go to aircrew?
RL: Sorry?
MC: You said you applied. You applied for aircrew.
RL: I did apply twice. Yes. Yes. And twice I passed the selection board. Yes. Well, yeah well except you go and and have a medical. And go to the medical. And as soon as they said medical I knew I was finished because I knew I was colour blind. And, yes and after about two minutes, ‘Sorry. Unfit for aircrew,’ and that was that. I was out.
MC: And so you were then, you then selected, you were selected for ground crew.
RL: Yes. Yes. Yes.
MC: Did you get a choice of what trade you went for?
RL: Not really. Well, I suppose yes and no. I wanted to work on aircraft.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
RL: So that, that was that actually.
MC: So you finished up as what? Engine fitter.
RL: Yes. Yes. You were called, called an engine fitter. Yes.
MC: Oh right. Yeah.
RL: Yes.
MC: Yeah. So when — when was that you joined up then?
RL: When I joined up. In ’43.
MC: How old were you?
RL: When I joined up? Nineteen.
MC: So you were born in 19 —
RL: ’22.
MC: ’22. So it would have been ’41 wouldn’t it?
RL: Yes. Yes.
MC: ’41. That’s about right. About ’41. Yeah. And where did you do your basic training?
RL: In the air force?
MC: Yes.
RL: Up in Blackpool. Squire’s Gate. That was the home for all of the training. Was up there. Training. Engine training.
MC: You did your engine training up there as well.
RL: Yes. Yes.
MC: As well as your square bashing.
RL: Yes. Oh yes [laughs] square bashing. Yes. Yeah. Yes.
MC: Yeah. How long was that, that for? How long did you do your engine training for?
RL: It was six months.
MC: How, so how many would be on your course? Would there be many?
RL: Just the same number of —
MC: What was accommodation like? Were you in billets or in hotels?
RL: Yes. In [pause] in civvy billets. Civvy.
MC: Oh civilian premises. Yeah. Yeah.
RL: Yes. Yes.
MC: The bed and breakfast type of accommodation.
RL: That’s right. Yes.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
RL: Yes.
MC: Yeah. Yeah
RL: Six months there. And then from there we went to —
MC: Which, which aircraft did you — which engines did you work on when you were there in the training? Your training. All sorts?
RL: Mostly the American. Rolls Royce.
MC: Rolls Royce’s as well.
RL: Yes.
MC: Yeah.
RL: And [pause] It was mostly Rolls Royce.
MC: Yeah. Yeah. Rolls Royce. Merlins? Did you work on —
RL: Merlins.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
RL: Went on a Merlin course to Bristol. That was, that was an interesting two or three weeks down there. Yes.
MC: Yeah.
RL: Yeah.
MC: Yeah. So, when you finished your engine fitter training which was your first posting then?
RL: First place. In what was [pause] I think it must have been Wick.
MC: Wick. Yeah.
RL: Yes.
MC: And what aircraft did they have at Wick then?
RL: Well, not the aircraft but the engines mostly.
MC: Oh, were they?
RL: Yes. Mostly engines.
MC: So, they didn’t have any — so Wick was, was it, it wasn’t Coastal Command then, was it?
RL: Oh it was. Oh yes. 48 Squadron. Yes. Sunderland. Sunderland and Hudsons. Yes.
MC: Oh Hudsons. Yeah. Yeah.
RL: Yeah. Yeah. Yes.
MC: Oh so it was 48 Squadron.
RL: Eh?
MC: 48 Squadron.
RL: 48 Squadron, yes. Yes. Yes. And they had, they broke up and was posted overseas but I didn’t go with them.
MC: You didn’t go with them.
RL: No, I was posted farther south. Down to Alness and Invergordon. Down there. Yes. And again on Coastal Command. Yes. Yes.
MC: And what aircraft were there there then?
RL: They were the same. Just Sunderlands. Catalinas.
MC: Sunderlands and Catalinas. Yeah. Now which aircraft did you prefer out of the two?
RL: Oh, I think the Americans. Yes.
MC: Yeah [laughs] Everybody likes the Catalina.
RL: The Cats. Catalinas. Yes. Yes.
MC: Mind you they’re big aircraft the Sunderland, aren’t they?
RL: Oh yes. Yes.
MC: Sunderland Flying Boats. A big aircraft. So, so I mean are they, what’s the crews like on these aircraft? Are they a different number of crews? How many crew have you have on a Sunderland? And —
RL: About six, I think. Mostly six. Yes.
MC: But not so many on the Catalina.
RL: Oh a Cat’s only about three or four. Yes.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
RL: Yes. Yes.
MC: Yeah. And you got plenty of flights on those.
RL: Oh yes. On test. I used to go on test flights. Test flights. Yes.
MC: Yeah.
RL: Flying around and around and around. Yes. Yes.
MC: So, and how long were you at Invergordon then?
RL: How long was it? Oh about three and a half years. Four years.
MC: Yeah. And accommodation like there. What was, it would have been in bed or in —
RL: Nissen huts. Nissen huts.
MC: Nissen huts. Yeah. Yeah. And did you get out much? You know, in the local area.
RL: We used to go to Inverness any time off we had but mostly it was all work work work work work work work.
MC: Yeah.
RL: And had an occasional day off and leave every about six months. That’s all.
MC: Yeah. So, what did you do on your days off? Did you go out much?
RL: I’d say we were so tired through working so non-stop. Non-stop. We didn’t go far. Far as the NAAFI and WO YMCA. Yes.
MC: Yeah. So when, I mean you said you got leave about every six months.
RL: Yeah. Yeah.
MC: How long? How long a leave did you get?
RL: Just about a week. Seven days.
MC: And you’d go home?
RL: Oh yes. Yes. Yes. Go home. Yes.
MC: Take you a long time to get home then.
RL: It did. Hours and hours. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.
MC: Did you get the train from Inverness?
RL: Inverness. Yes. And we’d go either Inverness Glasgow or Inverness Edinburgh. Yes. Well, a train from Invergordon to Inverness and then depending which leave you was on you either went to Kings Cross or [pause] or what else is there?
MC: Euston? Somewhere like that?
RL: Yeah.
MC: Probably not.
RL: No. Nothing to —
MC: So, how long were you at Invergordon did you say?
RL: About three and half years.
MC: Three and a half years. Yeah.
RL: Yes. Yes.
MC: Yeah. Yeah. And then you enjoyed your time there? Did you?
RL: Sorry?
MC: You enjoyed your time there did you?
RL: Oh yeah. Yes. Yes. We worked hard and played hard. Yes.
MC: So, what, when, when you finished at Invergordon where did you go to?
RL: I came down south. Well, eventually I finished up at St Mawgan. Down there. That’s where I finished up. Yeah.
MC: One extreme of the country to the other.
RL: Eh?
MC: One end of the country to the other.
RL: Absolutely. Yes. Absolutely. Yes. Yes. Yes.
MC: Yeah.
RL: Yes.
MC: And what what aircraft did they have at St Mawgan then?
RL: Again, that was Transport Command. A bit of Ferry Command. Just for ferrying new aircraft from Britain to Europe. Yes.
MC: So, so you worked on quite a variety of aircraft there then.
RL: Oh yes. Yes.
MC: What sort of aircraft did you work on then?
RL: Well, again not a variety but as we said the Dakotas and Boulton Paul Defiants.
MC: Oh Defiants. Yeah. Yeah.
RL: Yeah, so —
MC: You mentioned Spitfires?
RL: Not much. There was Spitfires yes. But not a great deal.
MC: Yeah. Yeah.
RL: Yes.
MC: They weren’t —
RL: Mostly transport rather than Fighter Command. Yes.
MC: Life was good down at St Mawgan then?
RL: Well, yes it was. Yes. Especially in the summer when, when we used to go down straight from work in the evening and just walk down to the beach. Down the cliffs to the beach and spend the evening down there. And that was, everybody had a good time. Yes.
MC: Yeah.
RL: Yeah.
MC: Yeah. So you were, you were at St Mawgan until the war finished were you?
RL: Yes. I was demobbed from St Mawgan. Yes.
MC: When was that?
RL: In ’45.
MC: ’45. The end of — yeah. Yeah.
RL: Yes.
MC: Shortly after. Was it shortly after the end of the war or later in ’45?
RL: Well, [pause] about half and half. Half and half. Yeah.
MC: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So you never considered staying in.
RL: Well I did but then I thought all my friends they’d got demobbed and I don’t know, gradually back in Civvy Street. So, I thought well maybe there’s a lot in that. So I didn’t. I didn’t bother to sign on.
MC: Yeah. So, when you look back on those times you enjoyed them. Even though there was a war on.
RL: Oh yes. Never regretted a day. No.
MC: Even though there was a war on. Yeah. Yeah. So, when you went back to Civvy Street what —
RL: I went back in the printing trade.
MC: Yeah.
RL: Down there. And saw a few years down there. Yeah. Ten to four. We —
[recording paused]
MC: So, when you, after you went back into the printing trade and that.
RL: Yeah.
MC: And you met your wife after the war of course, you said.
RL: She was a nurse.
MC: Oh yeah,
RL: A nurse at —
MC: In London was that?
RL: One of the biggest hospitals in London.
MC: Guys.
RL: Guys. Guys, yes.
MC: Guys
RL: Guys. Yes. And then she qualified at Guys and then went to the eye hospital.
MC: Moorfields.
RL: Moorfields. Yes. Qualified there. Yes. And I met her at the Palais one, the Hammersmith Palais one Friday night.
MC: The famous Palais.
RL: Yes. Our second home down there. The Hammersmith Palais. Just walking distance from the Hammersmith Palais to where we lived. So that was that.
MC: So, you were a great dancer were you then, Reg? You enjoyed dancing.
RL: Oh yes. Yes. Yes.
MC: Everybody did dance in those days didn’t they?
RL: Yes. They did. Yes. Yes.
MC: Seemed to do. Seemed to have done.
RL: Yeah. I read just a few months ago they’d knocked the Palais down.
MC: Oh had they? Yeah.
RL: Yes.
MC: I didn’t realise that.
RL: We was there about three or four nights a week. Yes. So, Sunday was mostly just dancing. Tuesday or Wednesday was to go on a — the pubs in Hammersmith down there before we went into the Palais. Yes. And that was that. Yes.
MC: So when was it you got married?
RL: In ’39. No —
MC: ’49? Must have been after the war.
RL: Sorry. Dear oh me. It was ’43. I think it was.
MC: Oh during the war. You got married during the war.
RL: No. No. No. After. A few years after the war. Yes.
MC: Don’t worry. And you had two children then.
RL: Yes. Yes.
MC: You said. Yeah.
RL: Yes.
MC: What were their names?
RL: Robert and Valerie.
MC: Oh, of course. Yeah. And lots of grandchildren.
RL: Yes. Yes.
MC: So, going back you don’t keep much contact with any of the former members of your RAF people in the RAF?
RL: No. No.
MC: You know.
RL: No.
MC: After the war you —
RL: Just, just had two or three years but you know just drifted apart and that was that. Yeah.
MC: Yeah. And did you get involved with the, any of the organisations?
RL: Oh, RAF Association.
MC: Yeah.
RL: I was one of the founder members.
MC: Oh right.
RL: Yes.
MC: In, in that area. Yeah.
RL: Yeah. And we used to meet two or three nights a week and we used to go out on different functions. Yes. Yes.
MC: Well, Reg I thank you very much for your memories of those days. And it’s, it’s great for you to let me talk to you.
RL: Well thank you.
MC: Really appreciate.
RL: Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
MC: Yeah.
RL: It brought back memories. I had to rack my brains for some of them. Yes.
MC: So, if there’s anything else you remember please don’t hesitate. But thank you very much, Reg.
RL: It was a pleasure. Yes. Yes.
MC: Much appreciated it.



Mike Connock, “Interview with Reginald Lunn,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed August 3, 2020,

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