Interview with Merv Owen


Interview with Merv Owen


Merv Owen was a school boy during the war. He recalls two aircraft crashes in and around Welton in Lincolnshire, a Lancaster and a Ju 88.




Temporal Coverage





00:11:10 audio recording


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IB: This interview is being conducted for the International Bomber Command Centre’s Digital Archive, the interviewer is Ian Boole, the interviewee is Merv Owen, and the interview is taking place at Merv’s home in Dunholme on 30th August, 2016, at 2.45. Thank you ever so much for telling us your story today Merv, shall we start by you telling us where you was born and when?
MO: I was born in the village of Welton the Twentieth of the Third, Nineteen Thirty-Seven. I have two sisters, my grandfather was a cobbler his occupation, that was his occupation he served in the Royal Observer Corps, my father was a carpenter and he served in the Home Guard, and my mother was a cook working for Welton School.
IB: So how old were you when war broke out Merv?
MO: When war broke out I would be about three years old. Er, later on as I got a little bit older I remembered things that went on in the village, I remember the, there was a searchlight post up Prebend Lane in Welton, there was also a fire service, there was also a Red Cross unit, and there was also an Army unit as well. Odd times Army convoys would come through the village consisting of Bren Gun Carriers, Army lorries with troops in and pulling anti-aircraft guns, and then we’d got Royal Air Force Scampton up the road, and Dunholme Lodge. And I remember RAF Scampton because at night time, my sister, when we was in bed my sister would shout to me and say, ‘The Lancasters are taking off I can hear them rev their engines up.’ And also I remember a German aircraft coming down on Hackthorn, down Hackthorn Lane in Welton, a JU88, coming along the middle lane machine gunning and it was machine gunning a car that was going along the road, the gentleman in the car worked at the Observer Post down Hackthorn Lane, unfortunately the aircraft crashed in the field taking the car with it and they also cut a telegraph pole in half, and the next day we went down to look at the wreckage you could see the telegraph pole hanging where it must have cut it in half with its wing, and we looked in the wreckage and found parts of uniform and bars of German chocolate which we picked up and started eating.
IB: Did you tell me that your grandfather that was in the Observer Corps could have been on duty that night but wasn’t?
MO: That is correct, yes my grandfather should have been on duty that night but unfortunately he was ill so he didn’t go, otherwise he would have been killed with the gentleman that was killed Mr. Jack Kellaway.
IB: What other aspects of the, of the country being at war can you remember at that age because as you say as you got older so you was kind of coming towards eight years old in the last, in the final years, do you remember such things as gas marks?
MO: I remember gas masks, ID cards, ration books, and, er, also sweets being on ration etcetera. We never had a banana we didn’t know what a banana was like until after the war. Also going back now to [coughs] a night in 1945 a Royal Air Force Lancaster came over Welton on fire and crashed on to the site where Welton William Farr School is at the moment, and we’d gone to bed and my father came upstairs and said we’d got to evacuate because this Lancaster had come down and an airman had been round and said there was a huge bomb on board. And so he took us up the garden and put us in the shed until later on and then someone came round and said it was a hoax about the bomb. Going back to the night of the Lancaster when it crashed it clipped the cookhouse on the ground and two WAAFs were very badly burnt but unfortunately all the airmen on board the Lancaster were killed.
IB: Just you mentioned that airmen, there must have been a lot of airmen walking around like Welton and Dunholme at that time how did that seem to you as an eight, as a child?
MO: Oh we found it very interesting and even talking to some of them and it really was interesting.
IB: Did they mix in kind of with the villagers with the community?
MO: Yes they were quite friendly in fact some of them used to go out with some of the girls, in fact most probably some of them married some of them.
IB: I think you mentioned earlier on about there being a salvage dump at Scampton can you tell me about that?
MO: Yes there was, there was a salvage dump on the Cliff Road on the way to Welton, the salvage lorry used to come down from RAF Scampton and of course we used to go up there and rake amongst the salvage picking live ammunition up, 303 rounds, and taking them home, taking the projectile off emptying the cordite out and setting fire to it. Also we found some bottles which we thought was orange juice, small bottles like the orange juice you got during the war and we threw one at a stone at the bottom of the pit and it exploded into a massive sheet of flame so we assumed they were bottle bombs.
IB: You talked a bit about Dunholme Lodge Merv, when was that deactivated?
MO: I think it would be about towards the end of 1945, me and my pal went on to that base roundabout that time and we found an incendiary bomb which we picked up and there was beck round close to the [coughs] boundary and we threw it in the beck, we carried on onto the airfield where there was a huge black hangar where they were taking a lot of the furniture etcetera off the base onto a scrap heap we found flying helmets with the goggles still fastened to ‘em, we found flying jackets and also one or two bayonets which we picked up and took home.
IB: Did you manage to hang on to any, any of it, any goggles or helmets or anything?
MO: I’m afraid not, we wore the helmets for several years and then gradually disposed of them, my father told me we’d got to get rid of the bay, the bayonets. And we took magnets out of the, out of the headsets what the pilots used to wear.
IB: Were there prisoner of war camps in this area at all?
MO: There must have been camps but I can’t recall where the camps were, but I can recall seeing the prisoners working in the fields such as potato picking, sugar beet lifting and things like that, I would think they were Italian and Germans.
IB: Okay Merv is there anything else come to mind at all that you wanted to tell me any other thoughts about that period your childhood?
MO: I’m trying to think, trying to think back. I’m afraid I can’t think of anything it’s a long while back so.
IB: Of course. No.
MO: That’s all I can really say.
IB: Okay then, well thank you very much for that story and we’ll bring the interview to a close.



Ian Boole, “Interview with Merv Owen,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed May 25, 2024,

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