Interview with Ray Parke

Title

Interview with Ray Parke

Description

Ray Parke worked on the railway before joining the RAF in 1943. Remembers flying forty operations as a flight engineer with 218 Squadron by the time he was twenty. Tells about operations on Essen and the Ruhr. Discusses the Dresden raid, giving a vivid first-hand account of it; tells of how Miles Tripp, the bomb aimer, expressed doubts about the operation and tried to drop the bombload away from the target. Remembers his first operation on Duisburg and the last one, both being thousand bomber raids. Tells of his crew members: Harry McCalla, the Jamaican rear gunner, who was rumoured to possess clairvoyant abilities. Mentions becoming an instructor at RAF Silverstone, after his fortieth operation.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2016-10-19

Rights

This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.

Format

00:46:13 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

AParkeRG161019

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

DK: David Kavanagh, International Bomber Command Centre, interviewing Raymond, Ray Parke at his home, 19th October 2016. [unclear] Very much.
US: Ok.
RP: Alright, I’ve just looked at me logbook. [unclear] Unfortunately most of the story was written down here,
DK: Oh! [laughs]
RP: He was my navigator.
DK: Oh, ok.
RP: And this is the crew.
DK: If I just put that down there, is that ok? Let’s hope it’s not too [unclear]
RP: Yes, yes. [unclear]
DK: Ah, so which one are you then? Right, ok. So that was your crew then, was it?
RP: That’s right, yes.
DK: You name, still name them all?
RP: OH yes. George Klenner, the skipper, Australian, George Bell, wireless operator, Les Walker, navigator, Paul Songest, mid upper, Paul McCalla, rear gunner, and Miles Tripp, bomb aimer.
US: You’re the only one left now [laughs].
RP: I’m the only one left now. They’ve all gone.
DK: So what’s the name of the rear gunner, sorry?
RP: That’s Miles Tripp.
DK: Miles Tripp, yes. So, he’s written that book.
RP: That’s right, yes, and that’s just the story of how he phoned us all up and then recalled the various trips we did.
US: Yes.
DK: Oh, ok.
US: He came [unclear]
DK: Were they all British then your crew?
RP: No, Jamaican and Australian, the rest of them were British, yes, yeah.
DK: That’s quite unusual, Jamaican.
RP: We didn’t get on awfully well, I’m a Norfolk dumpling and he’s a Londoner [laughs] and so and that was quite a laugh at the end, but
DK: Bit of change at the end.
RP: Yeah. [laughs]
US: Excuse me.
RP: That’s the same picture are more or less [unclear].
DK: Alright, ok.
RP: These pictures were taken from you see, this is a news chronicle.
DK: Right, so, just for the benefit of the tape here, so the book’s called the eight passenger,
RP: That’s right, yeah.
DK: A flight of recollection and discovery by Miles Tripp, ok.
RP: Yes, yeah. And I think they got a picture of the Lancaster here somewhere, no, that’s not there, there is something else, no, that’s not there, this newspaper photograph that was taken they day we landed from our fortieth and we were agreed by all the big buicks from number 3 group because we were the only crew in 3 group to complete forty operations in one tour,
DK: Wow!
RP: You know how they extended the tour a couple of times and as soon as we landed they said went back to [unclear] [laughs]
DK: So you did forty operations altogether.
RP: Yes, yeah.
DK: And was that all with 218 Squadron?
RP: Yes, yes.
DK: Ok. Can I just ask then, we are sort of going back a bit, what were you doing immediately before the war?
RP: Before the war, we both worked on the railway.
US: Yeah, you were
RP: She was on the LNER station Norwich and I was on the MGN at Norwich.
US: That’s how we met.
RP: That’s how we met.
US: [unclear]
RP: And I was the messenger and you the [unclear] and so we got together in that way.
DK: Ok. If I keep looking down I’m just checking that the tape’s ok, if that’s alright.
RP: Oh yes.
DK: Yes. [laughs] Sorry, I should have said. So what, so how many years were you working on the railway then?
RP: 1939 till 1943.
US: I 1939 to 1949.
RP: yeah.
US: [unclear]
RP: Yes. So I joined the RAF in 1943, September, you know, the usual thing, ACRC, London, and went through
DK: Just stepping back a bit, what made you want to join the RAF then, was as opposed to the army or navy?
RP: My best friend at school was a man named David [unclear] he was about three or four months older than me and he joined up first, he became a flight engineer and so I wanted to become a flight engineer. But first of all, when I enrolled, you can see, I was rather a different shape, and so they said, well, you are too big to be an air gunner, would you like to be a wireless operator? I said, no, not particularly, and so remustered to become a flight engineer and the test for that, I said, do you anything about engines? I said, no, can you describe for me a cotter pin? Yes, I said, and I described one on a bicycle, oh, that will do, you’re in.
DK: So based on that they decided you could be a flight engineer.
RP: That’s right, yes, yes.
DK: So, what was your initial training, then, as you joined the RAF?
RP: I was just working as a messenger on the railway
DK: Yes, yes. So, once you were in the RAF, what was your training then?
RP: The usual thing, we joined up and then go to ACRC, ITW, OTU, and then St Athans and then engineering instruction at St Athans and from there
DK: You remember which operational training unit you were with?
RP: Yes, there’s an OTU, I can’t remember whether it is 17, yes, yeah. But with the flight engineer, you don’t join the crew until, more or less at our stage, the other five trained separately on smaller aircraft and when they go on to a larger four-engine aircraft [unclear] engineer joins. And that’s the usual procedure then that you’re all put together in a big hall and you are told to get together and sort yourselves out a crew.
DK: Did you think that worked cause it’s rather unusual way of getting the crews together, getting
RP: It seems to work, in my case I was standing by the wall like a wallflower and he came across me and said
DK: Is that your pilot came over
RP: Yes, he said, are you Ray Park? I said, yes. He said, is that you at the top of the list? At first, I said, yes, alright you’re in [laughs]. And from there we did the training, initial training and started along the squadron, 218 Squadron, at Methwold near Norfolk in September ’44 and at that stage I was about eighteen and a half and by the time I was just under twenty I had finished forty operations. So I was one of the youngest at that time.
DK: So can you remember vividly your first operation?
RP: Yes, I can tell you,
DK: [unclear]
RP: It was to Duisburg and it was one of the first thousand bomber operations and ironically our fortieth was another thousand bomber operation. Duisburg, that’s the [unclear] and the [unclear]
DK: Ok, fine. So your first operation then was the fourteenth of October?
RP: That’s right. Yes. [unclear]
DK: That’ll be ok, we’re still picking up. So, fourteenth of October, so the pilots, flying officer
RP: Flying officer Klenner. It was a daytime operation at first and then within the same twenty-four hours a second one, to Duisburg.
DK: Alright, so daytime operation, fourteenth of October to Duisburg and then the same night
RP: Same night
DK: Same night, Duisburg again
RP: Yeah, back to Duisburg, and they were thousand bomber raids and that was our introduction
DK: So your next operations then are, is that the nineteenth of October to Stuttgart.
RP: Yes, a place called Stuttgart.
DK: So twenty fifth of October, Essen.
RP: That’s right.
DK: And then twenty ninth of October, West Kapelle.
RP: West Kapelle, yeah.
DK: And then,
RP: And then, Cologne.
DK: Thirteenth of October, Cologne.
RP: Cologne, yes.
DK: So there’s a lot of operations all in a short space of time.
RP: Yes, in the German part called the Ruhr. Essen, Cologne and places like that and they were the hotspots.
DK: So then it’s November then, so, fourth of November.
RP: November, yes.
DK: Solingen.
RP: Solingen.
DK: Fifth of November, Solingen again. So, twenty third of November, Gelsenkirchen. Twenty six of November, Fulda. Twenty seventh of November, Cologne again. Twenty ninth of November
RP: Cause it’s difficult to remember the individual ones, [unclear] some of them in here. The most tight one as far as I am concerned was Dresden, that was, very [unclear] choice but that was much later on.
DK: So just, as your role as a flight engineer then, what were your duties on the
RP: Flight engineer was really the second pilot, you sit alongside the pilot and mine, your main job is to look after the engines and keep the fuel running and anything that’s needed in, I’ll show you a picture of the engineer’s panel, that was my domain, you see, with all the [unclear] and then I had to help with take-off and landing, undercarriage and on the flaps, and bomb, what they called?
DK: Bomb doors.
RP: Bomb doors, yeah. And as the pilot takes off, so my hand comes up behind him and takes over with the throttles and likewise coming back, wheels down with the [unclear] bomb doors open, that sort of thing.
DK: So what were you actually trained on then? Was it sort of training at the OTU on the Lancasters as well or?
RP: Yes, I did a short while on two engines at Wellingtons and then Stirlings, there’s the first four-engine bomber and I did the initial training on that and at that time I joined up with the rest of the crew and then we all went over and converted onto Lancasters and it was Lancasters for the rest of the time.
DK: So what was your thoughts of the Lancasters then as an aircraft?
RP: Marvellous, yes, wonderful.
DK: So most of these raids were into Germany, aren’t they?
RP: Yes, the only one that wasn’t in Germany was to a place called West Kapelle, in Holland, all the rest were Germany.
DK: So were there any occasions when you, the aircraft was damaged at all [unclear]
RP: Yes, this one here and you’ll see, we were diverted to Dishforth I think, somewhere from Scarborough and we had to, we lost an engine over the target and we couldn’t maintain height and we were coming down slowly but not enough power to maintain our course and a Mustang came along [unclear] and escorting us back across the Channel. And we landed at St Eval in Cornwall and we had to leave the plane behind then because it was too badly damaged.
DK: So had that been hit by flak or [unclear]?
RP: Yes, which had caused damage to the engine which made unsearchable [unclear]
DK: What were your thoughts when you saw a Mustang flying alongside?
RP: Was jolly relieved but I mean, he came down on us, I think he was American, and as we got to St Eval as we were going round he just gave us a two fingers and off he went, we never did know who he was [unclear] at all.
DK: Were you ever attacked by German fighters or?
RP: Oh yes, there were several cases where we were damaged by fighters but most damage was by flak, actually. We were quite, there’s one occasion when the windscreen was smashed and a piece of shrapnel came right through my strap, you know, we had this [unclear] on them but [unclear]
DK: So it was forty altogether then?
RP: Yes, I’ll tell you the story about the last trip. The commanding officer of our squadron wasn’t very popular and we used to call him the Bigger, although he’s very experienced, perhaps I shouldn’t say all this.
DK: No, it’s ok [laughs]. What goes public will be signed off.
RP: I see. Anyway he said at briefing, today, chaps, it’s [unclear] last trip and when you get back, you’ll have to be on your best behaviour because we expect some visitor and also being the fortieth operation, [unclear] will be leading the squadron. Well, we always used to hate [unclear] nobody would ever do it and we eventually [unclear] Essen [unclear] but as soon as we left the target the whole squadron [unclear] something I will never forget [unclear]
DK: So how come you ended up doing forty operations then when the tour was thirty and then ?
RP: At the end of 1944 was the Battle of the Bulge, when the German forces [unclear] and the message came through we are short of aircrews and aircraft, you will have to do another five operations, something, [unclear] anyway, [unclear] carried on 45, the same thing happened, sorry, we are still short and we had to go on and do forty [unclear] anyway we came back and do the other [unclear] to forty and they day we got back from that [unclear]
DK: [unclear]
RP: Yeah.
DK: So your last operation was March eleven to Essen.
RP: That’s right.
US: [unclear]
RP: Yeah, changing.
US: [unclear]
DK: I’ll tell you, I’ll just turn the recorder off for a moment cause.
RP: Witten was another place which was pretty hairy but apart from telling you that with the flak bursts and the [unclear] dodging about when you are flying over the target this is little more light and say and just
DK: So just going back to your training a little bit and when you were flying the Stirlings, what was your thought about those aircraft?
RP: They were awkward, slow aircraft, they wouldn’t fly very high and in fact we [unclear] one off in the, what was that, west [unclear], there was a short runway and I think George was trying to get down to meet his WAAF friend in no time and instead of going round again, he shortcut and we landed in a ditch and whipped the wheels right off. But that’s the only real time [unclear]
DK: What about the Wellingtons before that
RP: The Wellingtons was really, as far as I was, only to get used to flying and, it was just about a couple of weeks [unclear].
DK: So you are quite pleased you never did any operations in the Stirlings?
RP: Oh yes, yes, well, they were getting, this time, you see, was getting on towards the end of 1944 and they were getting a bit obsolete.
DK: Yeah.
RP: Yeah. As far as the flight engineer training, that was mostly done at St Athans in Wales, yeah, and well, it was quite separate from, they were all flight engineers down there, that’s what you’d learn.
DK: So what form of training did it, cause you obviously said you weren’t from an engineering background, was it really quite basic to start with?
RP: It was a matter of lectures mostly and studying the
DK: That’s the flight engineer’s notes for Lancaster aircraft.
RP: Yes. That’s mostly ground training, getting used to the engines and the equipment and pictures in the aircraft
DK: So just [unclear], that was your number there then.
RP: Yes.
DK: 300
RP: 5095, yes.
DK: So, number one hundred entry St Athan.
RP: Yes.
DK: So this book is issued by [unclear], is it?
RP: Yes, yes.
DK: The tanks.
RP: We spend some time at the Avro factory in Manchester and you see, we learned all these things, [unclear] and all that sort of things, were all the procedures.
DK: So that’s the drill before taxiing.
RP: Yes.
DK: Drill [unclear] action immediately before take-off. Do you think you could still do that now?
RP: No. I can’t even, I can’t read, when I read them, I can’t even remember them, no.
DK: This is quite a, quite detailed, isn’t it, with your cutaways,
RP: Yes, it was a six month course, I think,
DK: So, you’d be standing in the cockpit there then.
RP: Yes, that’s right. Right next to the pilot.
DK: So, did you, I’ve always wondered what the arrangement was there in the Lancaster because did you actually have a seat or were you standing?
RP: There was a little [unclear] a small deck chair type of thing and it was clipped onto the side of the aircraft and then you bring it over and clip it by the undercarriage and just clip on and just like a small deckchair
DK: So just a piece of canvas, basically.
RP: Piece of canvas, yeah, yeah.
DK: So, how long were you sitting on that for then? Longest operation?
RP: You don’t sit very long, there was always something to do, keep an eye on the engines and anything else. And another thing, cause if the bomb aimer was working with the navigator, he would be behind me as well, there wouldn’t be too much space. And also if we were carrying what we call a dicky pilot, he would want to sit in my seat.
DK: So, how often did you carry the second pilot then?
RP: Oh, three or four times, I suppose, yeah. But we had one occasion where he was rather a bit blusterous, young officer type and before we took off, he questioned us all as to what we did on the aircraft so we all [unclear] him and coming back Diggs, the engineer said, the pilot said, he always had an occasion to fly low when he could, well, he frightened the life out of this dicky pilot coming back and so much so that I think he walked away and didn’t speak to us anymore [laughs].
DK: So what rank was your pilot then, was he
RP: Well, he finished up as a flight lieutenant but when we all first joined he was a sergeant.
DK: Right. How did that work then with the pilot being a sergeant and then still having officers around him?
RP: Well, in our case that tended to split the crew up a little bit when he became an officer but it was an occasion when he tried to smuggle himself into the sergeants mess for a dance and of course the CO caught him [laughs].
DK: I suppose that was a bit difficult when you couldn’t sort of socialize together.
RP: Yeah, well, he was a typical Ozzie so he didn’t [unclear] for anybody.
DK: I just make sure the tape is ok. So, can I have another look at the logbook?
RP: Yeah.
DK: Most of your operations, were they in the same Lancaster or [unclear]
RP: [unclear]
DK: J
RP: Yes, J.
DK: J, A.
RP: J, A most of them were in A. And
DK: And that’s what there’s a picture of in the book.
RP: Yes, yeah. And the last one was K King. This is the navigator’s logbook, not navigator’s, bomb aimer’s.
DK: Alright. So that was your bomb aimers.
RP: Yes, yes. That shows all his training and
DK: Oh, alright, so he’s, so Tripp then was with the Royal Canadian Airforce.
RP: I don’t know, he was trained in Canada but he [unclear]
DK: I see, alright, ok. And it’s him who has written the book.
RP: He, I think he’d must have become a pilot but he didn’t make it so he was finished as a bomb aimer.
DK: So I just ask then about February the thirteenth, you got Dresden.
RP: Dresden.
DK: And then the other raids were to Chemnitz.
RP: That’s right. Dresden was about the longest trip we had, does it tell there how many hours they were?
DK: Nine hours thirty.
RP: Nine hours. And it was the most horrendous fires, seeing the target, it was a fire we could see from miles away and the town was well on fire by the time we arrived there.
DK: So you were in the second wave.
RP: Yes, we were tours at the end of the time but I mean apart from, it is difficult to remember but I don’t recall any [unclear] problems I mean there were times when we were all glad to get out as a way we dropped the bombs and stick our nose down and get away as quick as we could and then the same night we went back to the next door place
DK: Chemnitz.
RP: Chemnitz.
DK: So Chemnitz on the full trip.
RP: Yes. And that was when the Russians were breaking through at Chemnitz into Germany and there was a lot of controversy about too much damage being done.
DK: Was anything mentioned about Dresden at the briefing beforehand?
RP: No, just that we are, all our understanding was that the Russians were making a breakthrough and that was to aid them by making ways to help them through.
DK: So you could see the city alight.
RP: Yes, cause that was mostly an incendiary raid and they were sort of all mostly wooden houses I think and it was a huge raid and the Americans they had about three or four that apart from these two trips they would, the Americans were doing two or three times a day as well.
DK: So can you remember what your load would have been there, would that have been incendiaries?
RP: [unclear]
DK: February the 13th 1945.
RP: Dresden, it doesn’t say.
DK: It doesn’t say, no.
RP: [unclear], I’m sorry, no record. That really wasn’t my department, you see, the bomb aimer was in charge of all that.
DK: So, could you perhaps talk through what a normal day in a raid would take place, when you get up in the mornings and
RP: Yes, that would be the normal, call in the morning in time for breakfast and in the normal way after breakfast you would go to your department, the flight engineer’s department and take what orders you were given and when you gonna test your aircraft or anything, special instructions, and then you would look at the board to see what the crews were on duty for the night and then if your name was on the list you know what time to be prepared and you go and get yourself ready for the briefing and there would be a separate briefing for the pilots and the bomb aimers and navigators and then the general briefing for the rest of us. And then there’d be a question of going to the take-off with the rest of the crew, take your equipment on check on the aircraft, previously they would have perhaps done half an hour flight to check everything was in order and in the time of take-off, my job then was to assist with the take-off sitting alongside the pilot and when the green light comes on to take-off, take off the power as we took off we had one aircraft’s called K King used to swing very, very badly and sort of question of pushing one side up more than the other so to keep the aircraft straight but then we would be taking off and the navigator would take over and find your course, you would climb to height and then you joined the rest of the stream. The first trip we did to Duisburg, we were told, was as to be a thousand bomber raid, we went all through the procedure, we took off and after a while Les, the navigator said to the pilot, turn on to such and such a course and we will join the rest of the stream, so he turned on to the course and then after a little while a voice comes from the back of the plane, that’s Harry in the rear turret, this is a very funny thousand bomber raid, I can’t see a soul up here and there wasn’t another aircraft anyway. And so we pressed on and pressed on and after a while the pilot shouted, what’s, what are those few dots up there end? And there was a crew, rest of the stream [unclear] so we managed to catch them up. Our first trip over Germany found us half way opposed to the target on our own [laughs]. And then there would be the, you know, the bombing run [unclear], the bomb aimer would take over and you’re to give the pilot instructions where to go and after the bomb doors are opened and he would then do his run up, left, left, right, right and then bomb’s gone, door’s shut, door’s up and then the navigator would say, course number so and so and so and you’d turn around and come back, by this time there’s when you’re getting all the flak and the disturbance and little puffs of smoke coming up around about and the bomb’s going down from the planes above and all that sort of thing. And generally when you get clear of the target half an hour just a go for the odd fighter and then after another couple of hours you’re getting towards the coast and generally speaking you were clear and back to land.
DK: So what was your feelings once you got back?
RP: Relieved, we would all sit down and when you land, you sort of [unclear] and you sit down [unclear] before you move to get out the aircraft.
DK: So what’s the debriefing then?
RP: Then you go to the debriefing and you’d have to report on what [unclear] the target and the weather and if the results and all that sort of thing, bomb damage and opposition and it was the aircrew breakfast, eggs and bacon.
DK: I bet you looked forward to that [laughs]
RP: Yes, yes.
DK: So did you, after you’ve done your operations and, did you and the crew tend to stick together and [unclear]
RP: Yes, we did, yes.
DK: Any pubs you went to?
RP: Yes, the one at Chedburgh was called The Greyhound, I used to drink them dry
US: [unclear]
RP: Yes, and then, actually we didn’t, we didn’t go out too much, there wasn’t a lot of time, we are talking about cramming in forty operations between September and 11th of March.
DK: I was gonna say yes, it’s very busy at that period.
RP: Yes.
DK: So your aircraft then was one of the, I noticed in the book, the G-H markings?
RP: Yes.
DK: So was that for daylight operations then? The G-H radar?
RP: Yes, yeah, and as you said, you had the marking on the tail, oh, it’s not on that one, and then you had two followers when you dropped your bombs, they dropped their bombs, that’s because we bombed through cloud, you see.
DK: So that’s the G-H leader with the markings on the tail, they were bombing when you did.
RP: That’s right, yes.
DK: You see the two aircraft following.
RP: Yes, yeah.
DK: So after your forty operations then, what happened to you then?
RP: I became an instructor at a school to teach other people to be instructors, that was at Silverstone, which now of course is a racetrack.
DK: And was that on Lancasters as well?
RP: That was on Lancasters, yes. After the fortieth operation when we all broke up and went our separate ways, I swear I just can’t remember several weeks, you know, what I did, where I went, or did anything.
DK: You think that was perhaps down to stress and
RP: Just stress and relief, yes, but as I say, I was still less than twenty years old, was the youngest of the crew.
DK: So, did you stay in touch with your crew then after that
RP: Yes, we had several reunions that we did and on one occasion we did something like this for a German television program but I never did get to see it.
DK: Ah, alright. Was it ever shown?
RP: It was shown, yes, I heard people have seen it but I didn’t see it myself.
DK: I’ve just turned that off again. So, the Dresden raid.
RP: [unclear] anything try to find it, can you? Here we are, this is Dresden, [unclear] in another book but anyway on the Dresden raid there was a lot of controversy about unnecessary damage and Miles Tripp said quite openly that he deliberately missed the target because he thought there was just too much, I thought that was in here, somewhere.
DK: Page 79, sir. Dresden raid, bombing of Dresden.
RP: [unclear] that must have been another book, anyway he got in trouble about that, he said that he felt unhappy about the raid and he dropped his bombs a long way away from the target, I thought it was in here somewhere, but nobody ever proved that
DK: I see if I can see this, [sneezes] excuse me, chapter ten, chapter nine mentions
RP: That’s right.
DK: Yeah.
RP: Well, you see, we, Harry the Jamaican, seemed to be able to forecast where we were going before anybody knew anything about it and it, you know, with these Jamaican people, they sometimes are a bit of a sort of clairvoyant and people used to remark, how is it you know, Harry, where we are going? I don’t know, he says, I’m just guessing at but they got to the stage where they tried to test him on it and they went to check where the stream was going and then came back to ask Harry where he thought we were going and then he realised that they were testing him and he wasn’t very happy about it. And, it’s all in here, somewhere.
DK: Do you think he’d have his premonitions or?
RP: No, I think [unclear], I’m sure it’s in here somewhere, yes, something but it was one of those rare mornings in November when the sky is completely blue and there is a false warmth in the air as though spring managed to bypass winter. Harry and I strolled for a small pine wood near the briefing room, kicking stones with our flying boots, without any [unclear], without any preamble he said, last night I dreamed of standing by a tombstone of an old friend, someone who’d been killed in an air crash when I was in Canada, it hadn’t been long before he appeared and held out his hand to greet me I don’t like that sort of dream and there was another occasion when he virtually refused to fly, he wouldn’t get in the plane and as it happened, he, the trip was cancelled but he got the premonition in his line that he wouldn’t fly that particular night and they tried to test him but that wasn’t very successful.
DK: [unclear] Dresden took off at 21.40, [unclear] Dresden.
RP: I’m sure he said somewhere about
DK: Yeah.
RP: [unclear]
DK: He said. There’s, page 85, he says, I told Dig to turn to starboard to the south of the city, he swung the aircraft away from the heart of the inferno and when we were just beyond the fringe of the fires, I pressed the bomb release, I hoped the load would fall in open country and page 85.
RP: Yes.
DK: I couldn’t forget what we’ve been told at briefing, all the old newsreel of the German dive-bombing. Here.
RP: Yeah.
DK: So when you got back then, was it questioned where you’d bombed then?
RP: No, this, this all came up later on, I think. that’s right, he said that when we got to the target there was no, no markers and he said, there was no sign from the master bomber and there were no flares marking the target.
DK: So how do you look back on that now, then?
RP: No, that’s all gone, yeah. In retrospect, it was at this point I became something like mercenary, just a night trip, the quiver of outrage at the briefing for Dresden dropping the bombs clear of the, in the hope that they would fall harmlessly in fields was a last gesture to an ideal of common humanity. To be honest, I’m not sure which I find more distasteful, actually the idea of bombing refugees or the idea that the Allies were bombing refugees it was all right but when the Germans bombed refugees it was all wrong.
DK: So that’s from, it’s just for the recording, that’s a quote from Miles Tripp book, page 89.
RP: That’s right, page 89, yeah.
DK: So he obviously had even then concerns, didn’t he? Did he, did you sort of talk about it after the war at all or as you say, it was just
RP: Well, I suppose half a dozen times we met after the war
US: Oh yes, yeah.
RP: So, that wasn’t really the occasion to, talk about that sort of thing.
DK: No, no.
US: Then we went down to see him
RP: Yes, yes.
DK: So, whereabouts was he living then?
RP: Barnet
US: Histon, Hertfordshire.
RP: Hartfield.
US: Hartfield, yes.
DK: So, has he passed away quite recently or?
RP: It was a few years ago, at that time when we were flying he’s, he was going with a WAAF in the control tower and I think they got married, didn’t he, eventually but and at normal times we had, he used to, during the times we weren’t flying, he’d go to stay at the Angel hotel, where his lady friend but there were times where we had to rush out and get him back in time and we had two or three old motorbikes in the crew then, we used to run on a hundred octane and we had to chase him and bring him back.
US: It’s going back then
DK: Ok, well that’s, [unclear] oh, thanks very much for that, that’s very good. So was there a big fuss made of the fortieth operation?
RP: Oh yes, yeah, and the annoying thing was that, when the squadron was disbanded shortly after the war, everything was destroyed, I’ve never been able to find anything of the squadron records of 218.
DK: No?
RP: And I’ve never found anything about people happen to do more than thirty operations.
DK: Yeah. I mean, it is unusual but, I’ve met people who have done like sixty or more operations in two tours.
RP: That’s right yeah.
DK: Not seen [unclear] like that.
RP: But the thing about this is in less than six months.
DK: Yeah.
RP: [unclear]

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Citation

David Kavanagh, “Interview with Ray Parke,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed February 23, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11520.

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