Interview with Arthur Pocklington

Title

Interview with Arthur Pocklington

Description

Arthur Pocklington grew up in Hull and was hoping to join the RAF as aircrew but failed the medical. He trained as a mechanic servicing the radar equipment on the aircraft. He served at RAF Scampton, RAF Dunholme Lodge and RAF Strubby before being posted overseas. He finished his service at RAF Kanpur, India.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2017-11-15

Contributor

Julie Williams

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

00:44:25 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

APocklingtonAC171115

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

IL: Ok. Ian locker. This is the 15th of November 2017. I’m at the home of Clive Pocklington and we’re going to start our interview now. Clive, you were born in, you were born in Hull so tell me a little bit about how you came to, you know your early life and how you came to join the RAF.
AP: Yes. I was born in Hull in 1923. And I was always mad on aircraft as most lads were in those days but my first association wasn’t with the Air Force. My family had always been associated with the Navy. And so I was, I think I was persuaded to apply for the Navy and the Recruiting Centre was in Jamieson Street in the centre of Hull. I would be seventeen or eighteen and I went there and they found that I had a heart problem.
IL: Right.
AP: I’d gone on my bike to that place. About four miles away from home. And surprising how I got on my bike after they’d rejected me. ‘You’ve got this heart problem. We can’t have you.’ I went home. It was about four mile. Went in and who was waiting there but my GP. They’d contacted my GP. Imagine that happening these days. And he, I remember he got me on the settee, took out his stethoscope. No. Nothing. Found no problem whatever. He was an enlightened GP because in those days if you had a sore throat they whipped out your tonsils in no time on the kitchen table. I had always had a sore throat but he would not take my tonsils out. I gargled with alum. Anyway, he went off and that was that. After that what happened? Oh, I was called up for the Home Guard.
IL: Right.
AP: And that was locally. I don’t remember much about the Home Guard. It was nothing like the TV programme believe me. All I remember was going on the rifle range which I rather enjoyed because I was a pretty good shot. And then —
IL: So what were you, so — sorry.
AP: Yes.
IL: Just come back a little bit.
AP: Yeah.
IL: To school days.
AP: Yeah.
IL: So you were at school here.
AP: Oh yes. I was at school. I was at Malet Lambert which was a school in East Hull. And when war broke out in September ’39 I was only fifteen. The school closed. Temporarily but we didn’t know that. But it closed. If you lived in the catchment area you were evacuated to Whitby if you wanted to go. But I lived just outside and so I wasn’t. And so that was my last association with school. I left school when I was late fifteen.
IL: Right.
AP: Never went again. But I did alright.
IL: Ok. So, what, so did you, so were you working at the time? Before you —
AP: I did, yes. My father was in the Water Department and he got me a job in the Hull Corporation Water Department for a few months. I didn’t like that very much and I went into BOCM. That’s British Oil and Cake Mill. In the laboratory.
IL: Right.
AP: You know, doing odd jobs and things. And I was there until I went in the RAF. Anyway, I was in the Home Guard and then I applied to go in the RAF. I went, the Recruitment Centre was in Doncaster. And it was a weekend. We went on the Saturday and we were due to come home on the Sunday.
IL: So, how old were you by that time then? Were you seventeen or eighteen?
AP: Eighteen I’d be.
IL: Right.
AP: I think. Yes. Eighteen. Had the interview. I’ll always remember we went before the board. Very intimidating it was. There were about six, to me high ranking officers. And the one, the chairman I presume he was, he looked at me and he said, ‘What’s seventeen thirty fourths of sixpence?’ I always remember that question. And I knew straight away. ‘That’s thruppence.’
IL: Absolutely. It took a while to think.
AP: Well, I don’t know how I did it but, because I was trembling I think. Anyway, I got in. Yes. Ok. We’ll accept you as a wireless operator air gunner. We had to stay overnight to be, for something happening. Oh, for medicals the next day. Overnight was, we had, we were in this huge hall of about eighty recruits with the beds about five inches away from each other. And there was one candlelight bulb in the, in the top here. And I always remember about two in the morning this poor fella was wandering. I think he’d been to the loo. Well, he must have been. And he couldn’t find his bed. This would be about two in the morning. He was still wandering around at half past three so I hope he still isn’t looking for it [laughs] Looking for his bed. Anyway, to cut a long story short we had a medical the next day and the same thing happened again. ‘You’ve got an enlarged heart. You can’t go aircrew. But if you like you can go on, you know a ground job.’ So, it wasn’t radar in those. It was a radio.
IL: Right.
AP: A radio course. So I accepted that. So I think probably looking back somebody was looking after me. I mean all they had was the stethoscope in those days and obviously it didn’t work too well [laughs]
IL: Yeah.
AP: And so I went on the ground. Ground staff. And went to Bradford, Bradford Technical College. Not far from home so used to come home quite regularly.
IL: So you were called. You were called up straight away. You went straight on.
AP: Yes. Yes. It wasn’t very long. I think they were pretty desperate for radio people. Based in Mannville Terrace in Bradford. I remember the trams going up the hill at night. Rattling away. And we were there about, well a few months and then we had this test. The examination at the end.
IL: So, how did, how did that work then? In terms of were you, you were in the RAF so you were in uniform. Were you based on, were you based at a, did you have a base or were you in digs or —
AP: No. We were in, we slept, we were in empty houses right in the centre of Bradford. There were about six of us in this house. The, we had the mess in the old church hall I believe and the RAF offices were in a little bungalow at the side. We used to do fire watching in there. And I remember I was pretty good in those days with my hands. We used to do. And there were some slips for weekend passes and I got one or two of those [laughs] and I made a very good lino cut of the station stamp. I shouldn’t be saying this but probably —
IL: No. They can’t get you. They can’t get you now.
AP: I would have been a very good prisoner of war because I could make very good stamps and came home a few weekends with that. Anyway, eventually we had the test and I came out fairly high so the top ones were sent on radar and the others were on ordinary radio.
IL: Right. So how did the training — how did, was it classroom based or was it actually —
AP: Yes. It was.
IL: Practical?
AP: Yes. Both.
IL: Right.
AP: Practical and theory. And it was in the technical, in the Technical College at Bradford. Yeah.
IL: Yeah. And they were all RAF people teaching you. They weren’t sort of civilians.
AP: I don’t know whether, no. I think it would have been civilian.
IL: Right.
AP: The teaching. Yes. He was quite good. White I remember his name was. Flight — oh yes RAF he would be. Flight Lieutenant White.
IL: Right.
AP: Came home once and, for the weekend, by train. And we were going home on the Saturday or would it have been the Saturday night? I don’t know. We got as far as Leeds in the train and Bradford is about six miles away from Leeds. And we couldn’t get to Bradford so we decided we would have to find somewhere to kip down for the night. And we found an empty carriage and slept in there. And about half past three in the morning the train was moving. It was the early morning milk train to Skipton. So luckily it stopped not far away from Leeds and we got off and eventually got back and got to Bradford and nothing came of that. Anyway, we passed, passed out fairly high on the radio and was posted to South Kensington, London.
IL: Right.
AP: We lived in luxury flats. I always remember marble bathrooms. It was, they’re still there. I did go in to see this place not long ago.
IL: Right.
AP: Near, near Hyde Park. We used to do PE in Hyde Park. And we used to eat in the, would it be the Victoria and Albert? I think so. I remember there were Ming vases all the way around the —
IL: Yeah. It’s south, well it’s South Kensington, isn’t it?
AP: Yeah. Oh, it was south Kensington all right.
IL: Museum Road in South Kensington is is the V&A and the —
AP: Yeah.
IL: Science museum.
AP: There were no raids while I was there because the Blitz, the earlier Blitzes had finished and the V-2s and 1s hadn’t started. So I don’t remember any raids at all when I was in London. We, I was there for about, oh and I missed out Padgate of course. Before, before I went to Bradford I went to the initial place at Padgate. But, you know, for square bashing.
IL: Oh, basic training.
AP: Yeah. Basic training. We were supposed to be there for ten weeks or eight weeks. Anyway, they cut it down to about five because they were desperate to get the skilled people really. So that should have come before. London I enjoyed very much. Had the test and passed out and was sent to Scampton.
IL: Oh right. How long were you in London? How long? How long? And how many people were there? And what were you, what were you actually doing in London?
AP: We were having lectures and practical work on, on the radar.
IL: Right.
AP: Gee sets, which was [unclear] and H2S hadn’t come into being then, I think. I’ll tell you about those later. And that, we just —
IL: Ok. And how long were you there? But how long did that take you?
AP: Oh. Three months.
IL: Right.
AP: Yes. Three months I think. And then we were, I was posted. Well, I didn’t know where I was going but I ended up in Scampton, and 44 and 619 Squadron. And for the next eighteen months, two years it was simply we used to go out every morning. We all had about five planes to service. Two of us would go together. One would go into the plane to test it. The other one would wait outside with a little van in case anything wanted replacing. Test the Gee and IFF. All those. There was the Gee set, chief one, Monica which was a rear facing radar which would give the bomb, the rear gunner a beeping sound. The faster, the closer the beeps the nearer the fighter was. Well, that didn’t last long because like all radar if it’s transmitting it could be homed in to.
IL: Right.
AP: Like Gee wasn’t. Gee was excellent. It was, gave them the position. It was only a receiver. It didn’t transmit at all.
IL: Right.
AP: So it was quite safe.
IL: Yeah.
AP: H2S which came in very soon was also a bit dicey in my opinion because it sent out, it gave a plan of the ground below.
IL: Right.
AP: But it transmitted and could be homed into.
IL: Yeah.
AP: I used to, occasionally in the morning when we were servicing the navigators would come along just to check things. And I would say, how would I say it? ‘I shouldn’t put this on unless you really need it.’
IL: Yeah.
AP: In my opinion it would have been better to do away with the H2S and use the Gee or there were other ones which we didn’t have and to have a rear facing gun. A gun underneath.
IL: Yeah.
AP: Because they used to come up underneath.
IL: Yeah.
AP: And there was no way of firing down on to them. Anyway, that wasn’t my, nothing to do with me. I just serviced it. We used to — H2S was also very heavy. It had about eight boxes along the side of the left hand side of the fuselage. It had a scanner underneath and it weighed quite a bit and the bomb load had to be reduced because of the equipment they were carrying.
IL: Yeah.
AP: I remember them bombing up. It didn’t bother me at all but I have heard of accidents happening. There were usually about three trolleys. One had a Cookie on. Like a big dustbin, you know. And then some five hundred pounders and then usually some incendiaries depending on how far they were going to go. Lisset, in Yorkshire I gather one did blow up and while they were bombing up. So it could happen. But being eighteen you never bothered about things like that. I used to go up in the morning occasionally. I wasn’t too happy about that though because the first time I went up they used to go on fighter affiliation. They would meet a Spitfire or a Hurricane. Well, the first time I went I didn’t know much. It was the first time I’d flown and we met up with this Spitfire and he did, he did a corkscrew.
IL: Yeah.
AP: Well, you became weightless [laughs] believe me. And I was airsick. Well, I remember staggering down to the elsan which was at the rear of the fuselage just in front of the rear gunner’s turret. And I was doing what I had to do in there and I remember the rear gunner turning around at that time and looked at me and I can still see the look of disgust on his face [laughs] And anyway he didn’t say anything but I don’t think he lived very long. I think, I think that plane was lost that night actually.
IL: Oh gosh.
AP: Anyway, I used to go up occasionally after that but I wasn’t sick any more. I think I knew what to expect.
IL: Do you think this, do you think this was a, an initiation for the, for the new boys coming in?
AP: I think, well, I don’t know. No. I don’t think anything to do with that. I mean, there was no — I mean when you think about these days you have to be strapped in and do that. But we just, there was nowhere to sit even. Well, there was for aircrew but I mean for anybody, anybody else, technicians going up you just sat where you had to and —
IL: Yeah.
AP: Yeah.
IL: So the airborne radar was mainly to give, the H2S was about more accurate bombing. It wasn’t sort of for self-protection really.
AP: Well I don’t, yes it used to work particularly well over coastline.
IL: Yeah.
AP: The reflections from the sea and the coast were totally different. But I mean as I say I think the Gee, Gee gave them a pretty accurate, but it could be jammed of course.
IL: Yeah.
AP: Which, yeah. And then there was IFF which was just a little, it wasn’t very big at all which gave out when they came back whether they were friendly or enemy, you know.
IL: Right.
AP: Identification. Friend or foe. And it had the little, I remember once it had a little explosive device in, in case they came down. It would destroy the crystal —
IL: Yeah.
AP: Which gave them their frequency. And to test it to see if the electric was, we used to undo the, unscrew the plug and put it into your meter and somebody would press the button to see if it was working. Well, once I don’t know if it was me, don’t think it was, didn’t take the plug out in time before the button was pressed. So the thing exploded and destroyed it. But I don’t remember any repercussions on that [laughs] These things happen. Oh, yes. For what I was, when I was going back to London I also, oh I shouldn’t come out with all these admissions. I had a bit of a scam on the, I used to, I wanted to get back to Hull to see my girlfriend. We were in London three months and I came home pretty regularly. I think I only bought one ticket [laughs] because the tickets in those days would last three months. You bought, you know your return ticket. So by various means I didn’t have it stamped [laughs] But I don’t feel guilty about that.
IL: Of course not. Absolutely not.
AP: Anyway, we left. Where am I up to? Oh, up to Scampton. And that was it really.
IL: So when, when were you at Scampton then?
AP: When I was at Scampton. Well, late ’43.
IL: Right.
AP: Yes. Oh, the winters in Lincolnshire believe me.
IL: So that would be just after the Dambusters wouldn’t it?
AP: Yes. It would.
IL: Late ’43.
AP: Yes. Yes. It would be. I remember we, well there would be about — oh, radar. The particular, for some reason majority were Canadians.
IL: Right.
AP: I don’t know why. So would be how many in a Nissen hut? Thirty? Twenty five? Something like that and about two thirds would probably be Canadians. We had one little stove in the centre and winters in Lincolnshire were cold in those days. I think we were issued with two blankets. No sheets. Hadn’t. I didn’t have a sheet for years. And with these two blankets you could arrange to have, well first of all you put your trousers down to get a crease in them. Slept on those. And with two blankets by some you could get five layers beneath and about six on top by surreptitious folding if you know what I mean. And then you put your greatcoat on the top. And it was alright. You’d be, just about cope. I don’t remember ever changing the blankets but they must have done [laughs]
IL: Once in a while. Yes.
AP: Well, yes it certainly was. And I was in Strubby and [pause] no, sorry. Strubby. Dunholme Lodge. And then I went to Strubby. 44 Squadron moved somewhere else and I went with 619. Just don’t know. Where am I up to? [laughs]
IL: You’re just moving to Strubby. But when you, how, so what was a sort of typical? You know you said in the mornings you would, you know pair up and go off.
AP: Yes. Mornings we would pair up and go around and service the kites. And probably about four or five each. Afternoons you’d be in the radar section repairing sets.
IL: Right.
AP: So it was because the all the kites. Oh, they’d all be all ok’d for flying you see and the afternoon was spent repairing things. Evenings in the NAAFI. Fish and chips. No. Egg and chips. No fish. We used to go around to the farms in Lincolnshire and the farmers were very good at selling you eggs which were worth their weight in gold in those days. Yes. So that was it really. We never, we didn’t get to know the aircrew very much because the fitters and the riggers they had their own aircraft.
IL: Right.
AP: And they got to know their aircrew very well and, but we didn’t. We were on different aircraft all the time really so I didn’t get to know any aircrew personally.
IL: Right.
AP: The fitters and the riggers, I don’t know whether it was true. They said when they, when they were coming back from a raid and they were circling around ready to land they would know by the sound which was their aircraft. They were all on, all identical engines. Merlins.
IL: Yeah.
AP: But they were so involved with their plane they would know, ‘That’s ours. It’s coming in now.’
IL: Right.
AP: Whether that’s true or not I’m not sure.
IL: So did you, were you aware of things like losses? And, you know, how did that sort of —
AP: Well —
IL: You know, what was the mood like in the station?
AP: To tell you the honest I don’t think we were. Because within a day if there were two or three — every night every time they went out, well every, most nights there would be one, two or three missing.
IL: Yeah.
AP: You didn’t know whether they’d been shot down or whether they’d been killed or escaped. But within, well a day that plane was replaced.
IL: Right.
AP: So there was usually a full, you know, eighteen planes there all the time.
IL: Right.
AP: Even though three were missing that night. They’d come. New ones would be there.
IL: Right. Were they sort of flown in or were they —
AP: They were flown in. Yes. Yes.
IL: Right.
AP: Yes. I don’t know. The ATA would do that presumably. Perhaps Amy Johnson. You never know.
IL: Absolutely. Well, not 1943 sadly.
AP: Amy Johnson. She was, she was an ATA pilot.
IL: She was.
AP: Yeah.
IL: But I think she was lost in 1941.
AP: Oh.
IL: That’s why I was saying.
AP: Oh, over the Thames wasn’t she?
IL: Yeah. I think that was.
AP: Yeah. Yeah.
IL: I think it was ‘41 that Amy Johnson was lost.
AP: Yeah. Yeah. That’s right. Oh, it was. You’re right. Yes.
IL: So, ’43, not ’43 sadly.
AP: Yeah.
IL: So that’s something I’ve found quite fascinating really. You know. That you would have thought that in terms of targeting aircraft it would have been the centres of production or the centres of storage would have been a very, you know it would have been very productive for, you know German bombing. Rather than —
AP: Yeah. Well, yes I suppose so but I think there was the, they were spread out.
IL: Right.
AP: They used to manufacture bits here and bits there and then send them to be assembled I suppose. There didn’t seem to be any shortage of planes.
IL: No.
AP: No. They were, they were replaced very quickly.
IL: So, what about social life? You know, you said, you know you spent your evenings in the NAAFI. Did you, did you become close to your, you know the other people you were with and —
AP: Yes.
IL: Did you, you know —
AP: Oh yes. I did. Yes. Yes.
IL: Presumably visits to the pubs or —
AP: I wasn’t a drinker in those days.
IL: Right.
AP: No. It was mostly, mostly NAAFIs and various canteens. No. I I didn’t drink ‘til I was well in my 30s.
IL: Right.
AP: Made up for it a bit now [laughs] Yes. And that was it really. And then the, the war. Oh, I didn’t see any action really. We weren’t involved in any raids. Quite, I had a good war really.
IL: Right. You weren’t, there were no raids on any of the bases you were at.
AP: None whatever.
IL: Right.
AP: No. No. I in the later in the war I did see V-1s. A couple over Lincolnshire. They didn’t have the range. They wouldn’t be land launched. They did fit them to planes and —
IL: Right.
AP: Release them and I remember I was cycling across somewhere or other and I saw this V-1 pass right over. That would be somewhere near Lincoln.
IL: Right.
AP: So where it went to I’ve no idea. I’ve seen V-2s. Not V-2s but the trails for when the Germans were sending out the V-2s later in the war. You know, the rockets.
IL: Yeah.
AP: From the, from the low countries even in Lincolnshire you could see the vertical vapour trails.
IL: Gosh.
AP: About eight, ten, seven, six all at the same time going vertically up. Presumably landing in the London area.
IL: Right.
AP: Yeah. Yes. That was quite fascinating really. And then of course the war, the European war finished and we were put on embarkation leave to go to Okinawa.
IL: Right.
AP: On Tiger Force it was called. And, but very shortly afterwards of course the bomb was dropped. The Japanese capitulated and that was cancelled. So we were put on embarkation leave to go to India.
IL: Right.
AP: I didn’t want to go to India but of course I had to. I’m pleased I did because I loved it when I got there. We went on the [pause] Oh, I went to Blackpool for [pause] waiting for the ships, you know.
IL: Right.
AP: The transport to go. We were in Blackpool about three weeks. A funny thing happened. Before we went, on the way to Blackpool we had to go through Sheffield to get to Blackpool. And it was August, I think. September. And we had to walk from one railway station to the other one to get to Blackpool and there were about six of us walking along. And it was a very very hot day so we took our forage caps off. And luckily or unluckily enough there was a car passing with two MPs in. they got out and came across to us. Took our names, numbers and everything else and where we were going and off they went. Well, the next day we were in Blackpool and we had an assembly in the Tower Ballroom. This huge hall it seemed to be. And they called out our names. There’d be about five hundred people. Air Force people. Well, you ought to have heard the noise. Off we went to the front and we were given a rollicking there. And we’d got, we were told we had to come back the next morning and clean the ballroom floor with a toothbrush. So, we spent about two hours the next morning messing around. They didn’t know what to do with us in other words. But I always remember that. And the time came we had to go. We went to Liverpool to get on the, went on the Samaria. The boat. And went three week journey. It takes three weeks now it takes what? Twelve hours? Which was fascinating. I mean, I’d never been abroad before. Went through Biscay. Calm as a millpond. Saw Gibraltar. The first place I’d seen abroad. Through the Med. Through the Suez. Bitter Lake. Flying fish. I wonder if there still are flying fish. And got to Bombay. Oh, on the boat we slept on a hammock. We had a mess deck it was called. About twenty chaps and a hammock. Morning came. You packed up your hammock and one of you had to go and bring back the food. You slept there and ate there and everything else. Crowded. Commissioned types, they had about two thirds of the ship. Non-commissioned had about one. I remember going where I shouldn’t have gone once and looked into this lounge. First class lounge. There they were all sitting in settees and lounges. And there was a fellow on the piano and he was singing, ‘Willow, did willow, did Willow,’[laughs] I thought well of course class distinction in those days.
IL: Absolutely.
AP: Absolutely awful. But anyway. And we used to, through the Red Sea it was pretty hot and once we, well occasionally we’d go on the deck and sleep on deck. But you had to be very careful to be up by about half past four because they, they swilled the decks down at half past four. And these sailors, they liked nothing better than swilling you out with those. So we did get caught out there more than once. Got to Bombay. Went to the transit camp. Worli it was called. And within five days I was smitten. I think if you go to, if you went to India in those days it wasn’t just the food. I think the air would kill you as well. And I was in hospital for a fortnight with, you know. I don’t know what. Diarrhoea.
IL: Yeah.
AP: And all the rest of it. I remember the drugs we had to take. Sulfonamide would it be? Something.
IL: Yes. Sulfonamide.
AP: And it came in a long strip about two yards long. Taking those. But I slept in sheets which was quite good. Recovered from that. And I was in India fifteen months after that and I never had another, anything else at all. But being delayed in Bombay for a fortnight I lost all the, my mates I’d made on the boats.
IL: Yeah.
AP: I was completely alone. I’ve never been so miserable in my life. Anyway, I got the train eventually when I’d recovered and went up to Kanpur which is a Maintenance Unit.
IL: Right.
AP: RAF Kanpur. In the United Provinces I think it is. Not far from Delhi.
IL: Right.
AP: And we were, worked in the electroplating shop because there was no radar. Radar had finished then. The electroplating shop. They still used to electroplate bearings for engines which were no longer needed or anything else. We didn’t do any use.
IL: Yes.
AP: Walked about. But we used to get, well the camp they used to go into Lucknow or Kanpur and buy cheap tea sets. Metal tea sets. You know. Electric. Cheap electroplated and they would bring them to us and we would electric plate them again. RAF silver. About a quarter of an inch thick we’d put on.
IL: Yeah.
AP: I remember the silver came in great plates. They’d come and they’d say, ‘Would you mind doing this for us?’ So we used to electroplate their teapots and various things. We used to play badminton outside in the, in the heat. Nobody told you the sun was dangerous. I enjoyed that. We had a swimming pool there which was great. And on the whole — oh, and we went up to, I’ve been to the hills. We went three times because the heat in, in oh dear me the heat in the pre-monsoon was a hundred and twenty. You just didn’t go out. You, you stayed under the punkah. The fan. You closed the shutters and you just stayed there. And you got prickly heat. My friend the other year, it was a hot summer here. She went to the doctor with a bit of a rash and he said, ‘Oh, you’ve got prickly heat.’ Well, she hadn’t got prickly heat because if you get prickly you know about it. Your pores all go septic and everything. It’s not nice at all. But we went up to the hills three times. I’ve been to Darjeeling, Ranikhet and Nainital. The most interesting one was the, when we went up to, well Darjeeling on the little railway which goes, you know. Very good. But it was just pre the end of 194 — let me get this right. Six. It was just pre-Independence. And we, to get to Darjeeling we had to leave Kanpur go to Calcutta overnight on the train. The air conditioning was a huge block of ice in the middle of the compartment which was about two feet cubed when you set off and by the time you got to Calcutta it shrunk to about [unclear] cube size [laughs] We changed trains and went up to Darjeeling. Had a holiday there. But when we came back through Calcutta to go back to the base all troops going through Calcutta had to stay. It didn’t matter whether you were Navy, Air Force or whatever. You were, stay there because there were riots going on in Calcutta. And they were riots. Believe me. Every night we used to go out on the on the lorries to patrol the streets. You’d walk around the block and when you came, in a circle sort of thing and there would be bodies stabbed in the streets. In the gutters. We had a Lee, I had a Lee Enfield rifle. First World War vintage and I always remember I was standing at this street corner and this Indian came up to me. He looked about a hundred but he was probably forty and a big long beard. He said, ‘You have not got bullets for that gun.’ I said, I said, ‘I have.’ But we hadn’t [laughs] I wouldn’t have shot them anyway because I really liked the Indian people. They were great. And that was my, well they weren’t, they weren’t antagonistic to us. It was the Muslims and the Hindus of course in those days. They were at each other’s throats. And it really was. There were millions slaughtered in that time.
IL: Oh absolutely. So were you, were you demobbed in India? Or did you —
AP: No. No.
IL: Brought back from.
AP: I came back in 194 — left in the late 1946. I came back on the Corfu ship and we weren’t in hammocks this time. We had little bunks. But going through the Biscay it must have been the biggest storm they’d had in years. I remember the waves looked to me tremendous but I wasn’t sick at all. But I think ninety nine percent couldn’t even keep down water. Anyway, eventually got back to Southampton and went to [pause] where was it? Somewhere near London. An old Air Force base. And it was the, 1947 was the coldest winter that’s ever been. So coming from the heat of India even in the winter to that was pretty rough. It really was cold. In fact where I live now when I was demobbed Bilton is a village three miles out of Hull. It was cut off for three days. The snow was so deep there was nothing got through at all. The snow was six foot deep. And I was demobbed, Finningley I think, somewhere there I think. I think it was Finningley which is now Robin Hood Airport.
IL: Yeah. Absolutely. Doncaster.
AP: Yeah.
IL: Yeah.
AP: And, and that was the end of my, my war. Which —
IL: So, so how long did it take from coming back from India to be demobbed? Were you still, or did you come straight up to Finningley or —
AP: It was just a matter of weeks.
IL: Right.
AP: Yes. Yeah.
IL: It must have been a frustrating, was it a frustrating time? You know.
AP: How?
IL: Because although obviously you enjoyed India. You know, I think I would find it, I think personally I would find it frustrating that you know, you’d signed up for the duration of the war and then there was almost like another.
AP: Well. Yes.
IL: Eighteen months, two years after.
AP: Yes. But I suppose it was understandable really because having thousands, thousands being put on the employment market there would have been — what would they have done?
IL: True. True.
AP: They had, they had to do it sort of slowly I think.
IL: Yeah.
AP: Yeah. We had a demob number depending on your length of service and your age. And I think mine was 48 and every time this list would come out who were going to be demobbed? You looked to see if you were on it [laughs] And eventually it came up.
IL: Right.
AP: And you went and got your demob suit and all the rest of it and that was it. And then I went back to me, oh I had a, to the BOCM. On the laboratory side. And then I applied for teacher training.
IL: Right.
AP: And in those days there was a one year teacher’s course which was quite short. And I was accepted for that. Went to Lancaster Training College for a year. Although it was only a year we used to work pretty long hours. There were no holidays. We started early in the morning. You finished about ten at night. I can’t say it did much good for me really because teaching is by experience and observing a good teacher.
IL: Yeah.
AP: Rather than being told all about Plato and all the rest of it. It didn’t work that much, but I didn’t like it very much but anyway I passed out and I came to Hull and I taught in Hull for thirty three years.
IL: So what did you teach?
AP: I was a primary school teacher.
IL: Right.
AP: Everything [laughs] Yes. Everything. I started at a place in Hull called Stoneferry which was a really lovely school. I had a little garden at the back. We used to have little plots for the, had three kids on one plot. I was there for ten years. And then I got in those days what was called a graded post and I moved to Thanet School which is not far from where I live now. And I, I had a craft post there because I was pretty good with my hands. And then after twenty years I applied for deputy and I got the deputy of Craven Street School. Well, Williamson Street School. And that closed and we moved to Craven Street School. So I finished my career as deputy head of Craven Street School.
IL: Gosh.
AP: And I left school at fifteen.
IL: That’s pretty, pretty good isn’t it?
AP: I still think you can teach yourself more by yourself than listening to people.
IL: Absolutely. Absolutely.
AP: And that, that’s really my, my story. I’m sorry if its —
IL: No. It’s been fascinating. It’s been fascinating. I’m just going to stop and then we’ll have a little

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Citation

Ian Locker, “Interview with Arthur Pocklington,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed November 27, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11536.

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