Interview with Raymond Meggett


Interview with Raymond Meggett


Raymond Meggett grew up on a farm in Lincolnshire near Scampton, where RAF personnel stayed during the war. His parents told him about some of these men, and sometimes kept in touch with them. He recalls tales of the other farmers, civilian and RAF. He remembers seeing aircraft flying over and accompanied his father around the area. Raymond’s family farmed in the area for generations; he became a joiner.







00:33:31 audio recording


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RM: Now, but they are still there, they are still there. We left there in 1960, and when we left in 1960 it was still an outside toilet you know, in to them, to them days. But we’ve as I said my father used to play the accordion and during the war years he belonged the local Methodist Chapel and he was in quite demand around Christmas time for going round carol singing to play the accordion with them doing carol, carol singing. But basically his accordion skills was if he could sing it or hum it, he could play it, he couldn’t read a note of music. He could also play the mouth organ. Unfortunately his ability hasn’t come down the generations [laughter] you know. I had an uncle as well, my father’s brother, he also played the accordion but none of me cousins have inherited any sort of mechanical, mechanical? [laugh] musical, musical skills.
JL: When they had these parties at the house, what type of RAF personnel came?
RM: We don’t know, but I know some of them were pilots, you know, what rank they all were, I don’t think rank particularly came into it, they’d covered a broad spectrum, I do know that some of them were [emphasis] pilots ‘cause me mother, that’s a story, me mother had a sewing machine which we’ve now got and part of the foot broke, and one of the RAF men says I’ll get it repaired and took it back on to camp and got it repaired, and he brought it back to her and put it on and he says it’s a good job I, I returned from the raid last night because this part was in me jacket pocket when I went out on the raid over Scampton – over Germany – so he says if I hadn’t got back you’d have lost the bit of your sewing machine.
[Other] I’ve not heard that one before.
RM: So, so one of them was at least a pilot, but I don’t know what ranks they were, I don’t think that came into it. I think a lot of them my parents only knew them their Christian names. Certainly they played darts, cricket on the paddock outside, anything to get off the camp just as a break in, just to lighten things up a little bit. My recollection obviously only goes back to about 1951 when I started school, but I can remember, cause Lancasters were still about then, I can remember the Lancasters coming in to RAF Scampton at one level and I can remember Lincolns coming in to Hemswell at a higher level. Scampton, Scampton was coming in like that and Lincolns was coming in
JL: At right angles.
RM: Yes, at higher levels to each other, you know so that’s my recollection, then I can remember the Lincolns and Lancasters being phased out and Canberras coming in, but I can remember at Scampton they’ve got what they call now, the flying bowman loop on the A15. And I can remember when I was at school they was extending the main runway at Scampton, because they got these big American, I can’t remember what sort of plane, flying fortresses or something of that nature, coming in and they needed a longer runway, so they put a loop, because the A15 is a dead straight road, and they put a loop in to accommodate a longer runway and I can remember as school children we used to go up there regularly to watch them building this, this road. And which I can vaguely [emphasis] remember at some time during the war when the Canberras came and they had one crash land, and I can remember hearing the explosion when it came down. But on that line during the war, I can remember my parents saying they actually had a bomb dump explode on RAF Scampton and they were saying that all the windows in the cottage rattled when this bomb dump went up, but it wasn’t a plane crashing so it was obviously some fault, something else had gone wrong, for the bomb dump to go up, you know. These are, these are the bits I piece together over the period of time [musical tones] on a different vein but this is probably. All my family was from farming, and on my mother’s side they farmed at Cromwell near Newark and that was in them days was the Great North Road. Nowadays, it’s the A1 but my uncles and me grandfather, their farm was on one side of the Great North Road and a lot of the land was on the other side. And they had to bring cattle in twice a day for milking, so they’d to bring cattle over the Great North Road twice a day and return, so they’d four journeys over the Great North Road, but unfortunately, I think it was in about 1952, they was herding cattle across the road, and one stepped out of line, and my grandfather went with his stick to bring it back in and got hit with a lorry what was filtering past and unfortunately died of his injuries. When we’re talking younger people now saying about herding cattle across what is now the A1, they can’t believe with the traffic that he was herding cattle across ‘cause obviously in them days the Great North Road, was a lot, and particularly just after the war, was a lot less traffic there is now.
JL: With being brought up in such close proximity to, to Scampton and aircraft and aircrews and pilots, did that give you a hankering to join the RAF or, with, were people in the reserved occupations glad to be in reserved occupation or?
RM: I think, I think the reserved occupation a lot of them volunteered and wasn’t accepted, because, of that side of it, no I never had any thoughts of joining the forces, if I’d got, I was fairly close to National Service, ‘cause of me age group and I was an apprentice, which meant then if you’d been apprentice and your national service age was deferred to the age of 21, but I can remember serving my apprenticeship and men was coming back from doing the national service, because the employers had to keep your job open for at least six months after you came back, but no, I’d no real thoughts, it didn’t really come into it because my parents left the farm in 1960 as I left school in 1961 and I, I went into the building trade, served an apprenticeship in joinery and woodworking machines. So I was, went in a different line altogether. But when I look back now, all my relatives on both father’s side and mother’s side was connected with farming in one way or another but when you move down the generations to mine, farming was getting far more mechanised, so you needed less and less people on the farms. When my parents went on to the farm at Brinkhall Cottages at Welton in 1936, the story was, that that farm of 120 acres supported fourteen people. Well nowadays you would need a lot more land than that to support two or three people. And when they went on the land, on the farm up there when they got married, that farm had sheep, cattle, it had everything you know right from crops all , all the way through. And my birth certificate says ‘Father’s Occupation: Farm garthman,’ now that wasn’t pronounced garthman [soft a] it was pronounced gath [hard a] and if you look the meaning up, it, it means one who looks after stock.
JL: Right.
RM: So that’s people look at me birth certificate and say what on earth did your father do? But farm garthman spelt g a r t h m a n but pronounced gath [hard a] it’s one who looks after stock: you know, that was my background.
JL: When we were talking earlier you mentioned that, was it Wing Commander Campbell took over the farm?
RM: Oh, yeah, after the, after the war ended the farm was taken over by Wing Commander Roger Moore.
JL: Roger Moore.
RM: And he’s the one we were saying did the escape committee with the wooden horse.
JL: But you said he wanted to be called Wing Commander
RM: Oh yes, when he came back he, you’ve got bear in mind all the men on the farm hadn’t been in the services at all, so they wasn’t used to using rank, and he set off on the wrong footing with all these men who were it was, a deep knowledge of farming, wanting to be known as Wing Commander Moore. Now, people who hadn’t been in the services, well they says to him, that rank was in the RAF now you’re Mr Moore, because the previous farmer, who’d been Tom Neave, he was a gentleman farmer and gentleman farmers was generally known as Mr, so that he was always Mr Neave so he became Mr Moore but he wanted to use his rank. And there is other farmers around the Lincoln area who still like to call thereselves Wing Commander – I’ll not mention any names [laugh] because they some of them do still exist at Nettleham, which’ll more or less say who I’m talking about [laugh]
JL: Did, I’m just thinking that, you mention that, I’m just thinking about, did your father say anything about a relationship between different ranks and attitudes towards civilians between civilians and RAF people?
RM: I think when the RAF people came on the farm I think all talk of rank, they, they just wanted to put it to one side and they just came you know, as they were, and it was all Christian name terms, you know all ranks when they was on the farm was, all, were as was, there didn’t appear [emphasis] to be any talk of ranks at all. The one I was saying lived next door, who was known as Johnny Campbell, everybody knew him as Johnny Campbell, but it, what rank he actually was, but he was a Lancaster pilot so I’m not sure what rank he would have been, but the rank was never mentioned, he was always Johnny Campbell and same as the man who we got in touch with from Sheffield, Eric. I’ve no idea what rank he was, it was always Eric, and I can’t remember his sur, I’ve got the name of Sumner coming into me mind. Whether that is it, it’s just, you know, I’m not quite sure. There was no men, and it was all free and easy, they played cricket in the grass paddock you know, they’d fresh eggs what from the chickens they’d do a fry up, a meal, and this sort of thing some of the RAF guys would bring what they could get off the camp to help them supplement their diet. The other one was, during the war years when rationing was on, we did reasonably well although this is from stories from my father again, he used, had a twelve bore and he would go out shooting rabbits and he would take them in the village and swap them for coupons for other commodities they couldn’t get as, as well, so it used to work two ways round, but obviously with rabbits being plentiful, so there, I grew up on a diet of rabbit and pigeon [laugh]
JL: With little bits of shot!
RM: Little bits of shot [laugh], that’s correct, quite correct! But my father didn’t shoot for pleasure: he shot for the table. He didn’t, it, it wasn’t sport, and if he went out with his twelve bore he didn’t come home till he got something for the following day’s dinner, that was the way it, the way it was. ‘Cause cartridges, in relation, he didn’t want to waste them. One cartridge had to equate to a dinner – he didn’t have many misses! [laugh]
JL: Are you aware, or we’ve automatically started talking about people who were pilots and aircrew, is there any memory of the fact that some were ground crew, or were they all just people?
RM: They were all just people, other than I do know this Eric, who we, he was, definitely was ground crew, he wasn’t a flier. But I’m not sure of the name of the one over the sewing machine foot, you know I’ve got no name to go with him at all, at all, I never heard that name mentioned at all. But it was, I suppose it gave them a life away from the camp, away from the camp because some of them was living quite stressful lives, you know and it was a way of breaking the, you know, get them off the camp for a few hours, you know ‘cos they didn’t all want to be in the local pub, you know and it was a way of avoiding, avoiding that. But I can remember in the 50s, on the farm, farm roads as you can visualise, are either muddy tracks or stone filled; we always had fairly good roads on the farm, and they was basically stone and ash, and I can remember as a child going with my father on the track and trailer up to Scampton airfield to collect ash from the boiler rooms on Scampton, ‘cause they was pleased to get rid of the ash as the farmers were to get it, to make the roads up. So there were reasonable, reasonable roads. One other memory I’ve got as a child. On the farm, there was remains of an old Morgan three-wheeler car what we used to play in as a child, now in today’s values – you know, I must admit I’ve made enquiries to see if it was still there, and it’s long since gone. But Roger Moore, Wing Commander Moore, who took the farm, I gathered he was a Bournemouth man and I can remember in the early fifties he would go and visit his mother and he had a pre-war BSA motorcycle and he used to go from Welton all the way down to Bournemouth on this very primitive motor bike to visit his, visit his relatives. I can remember that clearly the, but it must have been a long journey down to Bournemouth with the roads as they were then. No M1 or M6 or whatever, mind you, you wouldn’t have wanted a vehicle like that on the motorway being a nuisance. Now, as I say there’s no mention of rank other than the man who bought the farm, you know, I can’t remember anything else on it.
JL: Right.
RM: The only one thing I’ve got which you know, I don’t really don’t know what to do with, we’ve got a full twelve seat, twelve piece tea service and it was my mother and father’s wedding present from the gentleman farmer when they was first married and went on to it and it’s all there, all complete. Sentiment hangs on to it but the other side of me says well it’s no use to you now, you know, but that’s the one memory I’ve got and I’ve also got a clock which my mother treasured and it was, it came to her from her grandfather who died in 1930,31 I believe, when my mother was 14 or 15, she’d help look after them and she was given this clock as a memento, and I can always remember it being in the house as a child and she always used to tell the story, that at that time there was only me mother and her elder brother out of the family of five or six late ones, who was old enough to do things for this grandfather. Me uncle used to look after his garden a bit, and me mother used to do housework and bit of shopping. So when me grandfather died, mother was given the clock and me uncle was given the spade [laugh] which he was most dischuffed about, he said, he says it reminds me of work! [laugh] and he used to tell this story up till he died a few years ago, didn’t he. [laugh]
JL: We were talking earlier about how my mother’s three years in the navy, was sucha, a big part she talks about it a lot. Did your father talk about the war years very much in later life?
RM: Not a lot, not a lot, he did a bit, he used to talk about, he knew a few words of Polish, you know. Slivovic being plum, and that, which he’s taught me, but I’m not sure where the Polish connection came. Whether some of these RAF people was Polish or whether there was some other Polish people came to work on the farm at harvest times, I’m not sure. I understand some of these RAF men used to help a bit with the harvest, when it was, you’ve got bear in mind it was all back binders and stooks and pitchforks, farming in them days, but I don’t know where the Polish connection come in, at all. So I assume some of them must have been RAF men ‘cause I wouldn’t have thought there’d have been Polish civilians, at that time unless they was Polish refugees, I’m not sure, I’m not sure. I do know in the grass fields, at the paddock at the side of the house they’d some what would have been Anderson shelters, these little round ones and they was all used as chicken coops so where they’d come from, I presume they was put there ‘cause obviously they would expect Scampton to have been a target for the bombing. There is, which I am sure was well documented, there is at Scampton village there is the graves of two crews of RA, of German planes what were shot down. My father, we used to talk about these planes being shot down at Hackthorne Lane End. Now Hackthorne Lane End now doesn’t exist ‘cause it’s part of the A15 with the loop road so presumably they’d with these planes was having a go [musical notes] at Scampton and the defences brought them down but about these two crews the graves are at Scampton airfield, er not airfield, churchyard which are there to this day, and all named. But he used to talk about that ‘cause obviously that would have been a quite a thing at the, at the time. But I do know mother and dad used to talk about the farmhouse house itself. When Tom Neave had the bridge parties and you’d get the local, local vicar, the local dignitaries with it, and mother and father used to help out, doing the cook, because my mother was quite a good cook in them days, and what they used to do, they used to go and prepare it you know, and help get the food ready and what they used to do, while the main party was having their meal, you know, the gentle, Tom Neave used to say to my mother and father, whatever we’re preparing for the party if there were say ten in the party and were six of you, prepare for sixteen and you’re having the same . So they used to clear up then they used to go and sit down and whatever they’d had for the main party food, they had exactly the same, they used to prepare enough for them as well. Although they didn’t sit in on at the bridge party, they would sit probably at the kitchen or the, and they would have their meal as well. So it was, the one thing I’ve got from, when I was born, apparently the Mr Tom Neave, the farmer, pressed a, sovereign I believe it was, into my hand as a baby, which I’ve still got. But it, I don’t know if there’s any value in it ‘cause it’s got a young [emphasis] Victoria head on it with a, with a fault on it. So I’ve often thought I ought really ought to have a look at that again. It’s quite worn, dated I think 1848. But that’s my relection, recollections of Mr Neave. So, I hope that’s of some interest.
JL: That’s excellent, yes. That’s really good. Has he missed anything out?
RM: I’ve added a bit in.
[Other] He’s added a few bits that I didn’t know about, so [laugh]. I think that’s about it.
JL: We were talking also, you mentioned, we were talking briefly about Hull, weren’t we.
RM: Yes.
JL: You know the guy, a guy who,
RM: I’ve got a friend, ‘cause obviously my hobby, passion in life is vintage and classic motor cycles and I’ve, there’s a friend in town who’ll be about 79 or so now, he always talked about he was born and brought up at Hull, was a refugee or
[Other]: Evacuee
RM: Yup.
[Other]: Evacuee.
RM: Evacuee from Hull and he was put on a farm at Carlton-le-Moorland and he always tells, so whether a few other farms from that area you know, put up evacuees from Hull I don’t know. And the other one is which I mentioned, is the village or settlement of what is now North Greetwell which is on the Wragby road the A158 just out of Lincoln, the local people, us included, always knew it as tin town because during the war they put up a lot of these pre-fabricated buildings, and housed a lot of evacuee, I don’t know if they be children or complete families, but most of these have now gone now, but it is, everybody now knows it as North Greetwell, but all the older locals it’s tin town and it will be for ever I think.
JL: Yeah. That’s it, that’s absolutely brilliant.
RM: That’s basically my recollections, I hope it’s of some interest
JL: That’s absolutely brilliant. It’s great, not too traumatic I hope
RM: It dawned on me that over the sewing machine while I was talking.
[Other] I’ve never heard that one before.
JL: Now then, If you think of something else, I’m going to have to switch this back on again [laugh], but I’ll switch it off for now.
RM: No, I think that’s about covered it.



Jeremy Lodge, “Interview with Raymond Meggett,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed November 30, 2023,

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