Interview with Lawrence Clark Rogers

Title

Interview with Lawrence Clark Rogers

Description

Lawrence Rogers joined the Royal Air Force at 17, and trained to become a wireless operator. He served with 218 Squadron at RAF Woolfox Lodge and then with 75 Squadron, flying in both Ansons and Lancasters, He eventually completed 32 operations with Bomber Command. Lawrence tells of being stationed in Karachi and Singapore, the latter just before the Japanese capitulation. Reminisces of coming back to Lichfield for his wedding. Lawrence tells of his retirement from WC Holmes Engineering Firm - playing bowls, snooker and still driving at the age of 94. He talks about his family and his visit to Royal Air Force Museum at Hendon with his wife and son.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2016-08-22

Contributor

Vivienne Tincombe

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

00:14:31 audio recording

Type

Identifier

ARogersLC160822

Temporal Coverage

Transcription

DB: Right. I’m interviewing Lawrence Clark Rogers at xxx in Huddersfield, and it’s the 22nd of August 2016 at 8.30pm and we’re in the interviewee’s home. Lawrence, could you tell me a little bit about your life and how it, how it is with the RAF?
LR: Yes. I think I can. If I can remember I will tell you of course. But schooldays, after schooldays. Well school, I went to school and I wasn’t over keen on school at all, but I decided, at the age of seventeen, that I’d like to — I knew that I would be called up. So, I didn’t want to go in the Navy, I can’t swim, I didn’t want to go in the Army, so I thought, right, I’ll go in the Air Force, so, I went down to the Drill Hall in Huddersfield and volunteered. I told my Father, I told my Mother, who wasn’t at all pleased, but she said she would, alright in the Air Force as long as I didn’t fly, which I promised. And from there on, I went to East Kirby – West Kirby, sorry, near Liverpool, and I was there for the training. I remembered the time when we first joined. When we first entered there, we got a good meal, and then the day after, we were signed in and the sergeant who took us out said, ‘Now, you’ve not got a name. You’ve got a ‘B’ number’. So, we did quite a lot of drill there, on the parade ground, the aircraft engine in the distance was going so all the shouting, this, that and the other. And from there I went to Wigtown in Scotland where I was an instructor. Oh no, sorry, I went first of all because I signed up for a wireless operator when I volunteered. They asked for volunteers, we put our names up, our hands up, and we went to Blackpool for the wireless. Did our drill on the bottom prom, all the holidaymakers on the top prom watching us. And then we went to Yatesbury, which was the station for aircrew and we did the radio wireless training there, and then from there, I got posted to Wigtown. No, I think I got that out of context a little. Wigtown in Scotland, I was there, posted there as an instructor on wireless operation. This went quite normally. It was a nice station. They provided us with a bicycle and this, that and the other, food wasn’t too bad, and we flew in Ansons. And on one trip, which the, it was usually from Wigtown down to Anglesey and back, all the time. Most of the time they sent us up north a bit and we got a recall. It was a bad day and we got a recall and he asked the navigator, pupil navigator where we were, and he didn’t seem to know. So the pilot said, ‘I’ll fly five minutes west and then come down over the sea’. We flew five minutes west, we didn’t come down in the sea. We crashed in the Kingsborough fleet, I think they called it Hibble Hill – the place where we crashed. We were there quite for a while in cloud, probably twenty four hours, something like that, till the clouds broke in the morning and I was flashing, there was aircraft about. I was flashing my aldis lamp and I couldn’t, I couldn’t transmit but I could receive. It had been damaged in the aircraft. If we’d have missed this part where we should have, where we did crash then missed that, we’d have gone nose first into higher mountains just further on. But anyhow, that didn’t happen. The group captain came over in his Tiger Moth and dropped us a big parcel of food which was, I don’t know, a cheese sandwich in — it was supposed to be, I don’t know how thick. Two big slices of bread, it was terrible. Anyhow, later on, after a few hours, they climbed up the, and brought us down. We didn’t get survivor’s leave, I don’t know why, but we didn’t. Anyhow, I was stationed there for two years actually, and we tried our best to get down to, to get on the squadron. Eventually we were sent to OUT, I think it was Chedburgh, and from there, we were posted to 218 Gold Coast Squadron, Woolfox Lodge. I did about eight or nine, about nine operations from there, and then we lost our pilot. He had an accident. Not a flying accident but an accident on the road, and we were transferred to 75 New Zealand squadron. We were approached by a squadron leader, we were given a new pilot, Squadron Leader Rogers, a New Zealand pilot, and he was in charge of, I don’t know, I think it was A group pilot. We got all the dirty jobs, of course. used to pass us, ‘You, light the fire’, and this, that and those things, didn’t want to delegate too much. And we did the rest of the operations there. I did thirty two, if I remember correctly, operations, because I had to do two operations with another pilot who hadn’t got a wireless operator. And on the thirtieth operation of mine, I could have packed in, but the crew wanted me to carry on, and do the, do up to the thirtieth, so I did two more, of course, which I did thirty two. From there, we were posted down to London, to go overseas. They messed us around quite a bit. At first, we were going to sail from there, and then they said we were going to fly from there, I can’t remember the place where we flew from, but we flew from there to Karachi. I was stationed in Karachi for quite a while. There was a, what was the first [pause], what it was? I forget what it was – the first job I was doing, but the second job was when we were posted to Singapore just before the capitulation by the Japanese. We went by landing craft, which was going back to Australia, and we landed in Singapore at roughly, on the same day as the capitulation came up. And I was accommodation officer for one of the forward, I went over in a landing craft that was going back with twenty four drivers and escorts, doing the chapatis on the desk — on the deck and things like that. I met a good friend from Pocklington, I’ve forgotten his name now, oh dear. Anyhow, we were together in India all the time, and I got, I wasn’t there too long actually. We sailed back to England, I don’t remember [pause], if I remember correctly, it was after, after the capitulation by Germany, and after VJ day as well. And whilst I was there in Singapore, it was arranged between Audrey and myself, my late wife, that we should get married, and we came back to Lichfield, and from there, I had two or three different intervals, because I didn’t want to go back to the job where I were, which was a travel agent. But we had two or three interviews, I had two or three different jobs, short jobs, two or three weeks jobs and then I got a job. A choice of jobs between textiles again and engineering, I decided to go in for engineering and I worked at the engineering firm, which was WC Holmes at that time, at Huddersfield, for thirty two years, I think it was, something like that anyhow. And I retired there at sixty four, voluntary redundancy. I’d been trying for redundancy since I was sixty, and at sixty four, I got it. A new director came up, which was very friendly with me, and he called me to the office. He said, ‘Lawrence, do you want to be made redundant?’ I said, ‘Yes please’. He said, ‘You’ll be first on the list tomorrow’, which I was. And since then, I’ve had a great retirement. I still drive at my age of ninety four, I still play bowls for the league, and I play snooker for the league also. And I’ve really enjoyed my retirement. I’ve been retired now thirty years, I think it is, and I’ve got four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren and we’re quite a happy family. I, regretfully, I wanted my eldest son Graham, to go down and get, and go inside the Lancaster. My wife went with me down to Hendon years ago, and they allowed us to go in. I wrote to the people first, and they said, ‘Just make yourself known’, but when I went down to Hendon again, they wouldn’t. They wouldn’t let us go in the aircraft at all, but they did put a platform up, so that we could go up and look in through the pilot’s window, but we couldn’t see where the wireless operator was, of course. And just shortly after that, my son got very ill, had a major operation and he died some ten weeks ago, 10th of June this year, and I’ve now got two great-granddaughters that look after me. They do, they really look after me. I have a youngest son who now lives in Wales, I get invited down there, and he comes up here regularly, reasonably regularly anyhow, and we get — he’s a very good son. Just no distinguishing between the two really and I treated them both the same, and that’s about it. I’m still here and there we are.
[recording paused]
There was one incident whilst I was in the Air Force, that I was home on leave and I was on a squadron at the time, and I met my friend at the bus stop, as I was going back off leave. Kenneth Richardson, they called him, and he was, I didn’t know, but he’d joined the RAF, and he joined Bomber Command. And he went out, I don’t know whether it was his first or his second trip, but he never returned, and he’s never been found as far as I know, anyhow, and, you know, I would have liked to known what, you know, what happened to him. But it’s a long time ago and there we are.
[recording paused]
Yes, and another addition, that I was just looking at the photograph of my crew in front of the Lancaster. There was George, who was a Cockney from London, he was the oldest man of the crew. Next was Ron Brown, who was the flight engineer, and a very good friend of mine. Even after the war, we used to see each other and visit each other. Then there was Brian, who came from Birmingham. He was, well he was the joker of the family, I mean, at one time, we were in the station going back off leave, and he went up to this woman and asked her how she got her fur coat, but that’s beside the point. Harry was the pilot, Harry Sheldon, he lived in Nottingham. He was a nice fella. He moved to Canada and he’s since died, you know. Ron has also passed away, next one along is myself, and then there was Tom, Tom Brook, Tom [pause], I’ve forgotten his last name. He was the rear gunner and I don’t know roughly where, I’ve not heard from him. And then Don was the navigator, Don Whittaker. He has since passed away, of course, but he was a very nice fella. He lived very close to me and I used to visit, and during the war, he ran a small car, actually, and he used to pick me up at Stockport and take me down. We used to sleep halfway, and about 5 o’clock in the morning, there used to be a knock on the window. It was the land girls who went on duty, and they used to wake us up, to, so we could continue the journey. And that’s about it. Thank you.

Citation

Denise Boneham, “Interview with Lawrence Clark Rogers,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed October 24, 2020, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/11562.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.

Can you help improve this description?