Interview with Archie Weir


Interview with Archie Weir


Archie was born in Ayreshire. He was about 17 when he joined, then went to South Africa to train as a bomb aimer. In February 1943 Archie worked on Halifax Mk 2 before being transferred to Lancaster finishing school at RAF Syerston. In November 1943 he also flew in Oxford and Anson aircraft. In 1944 he trained on Wellingtons and Halifax aircraft, and in March 1945 he went to the Lancaster Finishing School at RAF Syerston on familiarisation flights and circuits and landings. The crew served with 61 Squadron at RAF Skellingthorpe from 16 March 1945; on 22 March he did his first operation to Bremen. Their last one was on 18 April 1945 to Komotau in Czechoslovakia. He also flew on some Cook’s Tour trips over former targets in Germany.. Archie was posted to RAF Waddington in 1946, before returning to his job in Scotland.







00:40:36 audio recording


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HB: This is an interview between Harry Bartlett from International Bomber Command Centre Digital Archive and Mr Archibald Weir [buzzzzzzzzzz] Linton, Derbyshire. Archie’s service number —
AW: 156 —
HB: Is 1 —
AW: 1562624.
HB: 1562624. After seventy five years that’s not a bad memory. And Archie served with 61 Squadron at some, at one point during his service.
AW: That’s right.
HB: Before we get in to the war Archie where were you born?
AW: Glenbuck in Ayrshire.
HB: Sorry?
AW: Glenbuck in Ayrshire.
HB: In Ayrshire. Oh right. Right.
Other: Glenbuck.
HB: Glenbuck. Yeah. Right. And did you go to school up there?
AW: Hmmn?
HB: Did you go to school up there before the war?
AW: Yeah.
HB: Yeah. And how old were you when, when the war was going to start?
AW: Seventeen, I think.
HB: About seventeen.
AW: Yeah.
HB: And did you, did you join up straightaway?
AW: Yeah.
HB: So, so what when did you, when did you go to the RAF to join up? Can you remember? It doesn’t matter if you can’t. it’s —
AW: No.
HB: That’s not, that’s not really important.
Other: Yeah. He did. He did sign up at the beginning.
HB: So, so whereabouts did you go to join the RAF, Archie?
HB: Was that, was that in Scotland somewhere?
AW: Yes.
HB: Yeah. So, so you joined up in Scotland.
AW: Yeah.
HB: And they obviously sent you somewhere. Where did you go to get trained?
AW: For a, for a while I was trained in Ayrshire.
HB: You trained, trained in Ayrshire originally.
AW: Yeah.
HB: Yeah. And then did you, did you go abroad?
AW: Yes.
HB: Whereabouts did you go abroad for training? I bet it was hot.
AW: Yes.
HB: Somewhere in South Africa?
HB: So, when you first went to South Africa did you go to train? What did you actually go to train as?
AW: A bomb aimer.
HB: A bomb aimer. Right. You, you didn’t start off as a pilot.
AW: No.
HB: No. You started. You went as a bomb aimer. Right. Because I’ve got your, you very kindly got out your South African, “Air Force Observer’s and Air Gunner’s Log Book.” And of course, the observers were the bomb aimers, weren’t they? Yeah, and we’ve got here 1943. November 1943.
AW: Yeah.
HB: And we’ve got you going on air experience. So, can you remember what kind of aircraft you were in there, Archie?
HB: I’ve got a note right at the front here that says you did some practice in Oxfords and Ansons. So, so you obviously had a bit of a fly in them.
AW: Yeah.
HB: What, what, can you remember what it was like?
AW: The Air Force. The Air Force.
HB: Sorry, Archie. I didn’t quite catch that.
AW: It was the Air Force.
HB: Yeah. What was it like flying for the first time in, in these aircraft?
AW: It was in the, basically in the Command.
HB: Yeah. In Bomber Command.
AW: Yeah.
HB: Yeah. But did, I mean did you enjoy the flying?
AW: Oh aye.
HB: Yes. Very good. And can you remember how long you were in South Africa training?
AW: Say that again. Sorry.
HB: Can you remember how long you were in South Africa training?
AW: I think it was about six months.
HB: Right. About, about six months. I’ve got you in your book. I’ve got you transferring in March 1945 to LFS Syerston. Was that, was that flying? Actually flying the aircraft at the local LFS. Flying School at RAF Syerston. Because I’ve got you down here you’re in Lancaster.
AW: Yeah.
HB: With a Flying Officer Anderson. Do you remember him at all?
HB: I’ve got, I’ve got you going out on the 10th of March 1945 doing your familiarisation exercises. Can you remember what they were like?
AW: Circuits and landings really.
HB: Circuits and landings. Right. And then it sounds a little bit hairy this one. On March the 11th three engine flying and corkscrew. What was, what was that about Archie?
AW: [pause] I think it was part of the procedure as far as corkscrew was concerned.
HB: Right. So if, so were you flying the plane to do the corkscrew or was that the pilot?
AW: I think it was a bit of each, I think.
HB: A bit of each. Yeah. I think everybody did a bit of each didn’t they? Now, we’ve got you doing your exercises here. And then we’ve got you going to 61 Squadron at Skellingthorpe.
AW: Yeah.
HB: Skellingthrope. Skellingthorpe.
AW: Skellingthorpe.
HB: And that’s the 16th of March 1945 and we’ve got some of your operations in here. So, we’ve got you with —
AW: [Cromberg]
HB: [Cromberg.] Yeah. That’s it. Spot on. The pilot. And you are the observer. The bomb aimer. So we’ve got you doing your fighter affiliation and your cross country exercises and then we’ve got the 22nd of March 1945 with [Cromberg]
AW: Yeah.
HB: And you went to Bremen. That was your first operation. Can you remember what your first operation was like?
HB: I’ve got, because I haven’t got anything here. You were flying for four hours and fifty minutes. Does that help? No. And that was a day time operation. And you’ve got a note in your book here, Archie. Thousand pound AMC. Can you remember what AMC was for? [pause] Would that be something to do with the bomb? The actual bomb or the bomb load because you’ve got fourteen. Fourteen thousand pound AMC. So, I don’t know what AMC is. No? It don’t matter. And then we’ve got you going to the 23rd blimey, so, you did a day operation on the 22nd of March to Bremen and then on the 23rd you did a night operation to Wessel. Yeah. Can you remember anything about them? No. Because you did, I mean you did four operations in five days, Archie. That was a lot.
Other: If you can remember anything dad if you tell him.
HB: Yeah.
Other: It would be good.
HB: Yeah.
Other: If there’s anything you can remember please tell him. It would be really, it’s really important.
HB: Yeah.
Other: People want to know what you’re saying.
HB: Yeah. You don’t —
Other: It won’t —
HB: There’s us talking. It, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what you say it’s your, it’s what you want to say about it about your time.
Other: But it would be really important. It’s really good for people to understand dad.
HB: Yeah.
Other: Your, your time in a plane. How it felt. How it was for you in your plane and what you saw and how it was for you. It’s time to tell everybody. You’ve not told anyone in seventy five years anything. It’s time to tell. Please. Tell us what’s going on. Tell us how it was so people can understand how it was for you as a young man in that plane. Tell us how it was.
HB: Yeah. We weren’t there Archie. We don’t know what it was like. It must have been frightening and you must have seen some pretty nasty things.
AW: Oh aye.
HB: Did you, did you have the same crew all the way through?
AW: Yeah.
HB: Yeah. And what, what was it like mixing with the crew?
AW: No problem.
HB: Yeah. How did you all get together Archie in the first place? As a crew.
AW: It was at [pause] oh, we were in to, what was it called?
HB: Into a —
AW: In to a school. A flying school.
HB: In the flying school. Yeah. And did you all sort of mix around until you found each other?
AW: More or less. Yeah.
HB: Yeah. Who, who [pause] Did you pal up with someone or did someone come and get you?
AW: We were all put together and there we were formed in to a squad.
HB: Right. Yeah. So you, so you became a crew at the flying school.
AW: Yeah.
HB: Yeah. And you stuck with that crew all the way through then.
AW: Yeah.
HB: Because some, some crews towards the end of the war, some crews got broken up because some went off because some had done more operations than the others but others, I mean sometimes they were wounded or killed. You know. Were, were, was your crew one of the lucky crews and you saw it right through to the end?
AW: Yeah.
HB: Yeah. Can you remember who your crew were? What their names were?
AW: Jack [Cromberg] was the pilot.
HB: The pilot. Yeah. Can you remember your navigator?
AW: Hmmn?
HB: Can you remember your navigator?
Other: I’ve got the, I’ve got that photo handy. It’s alright. I’ll get it. I’ve got it on my —
HB: I’ll Perhaps just have a look at this photo with you Archie and we’ll see. See who you can remember. I’m bound to knock that tea off. I’m bound to. I’ll put it there. It always happens. Right. Here we’ve got your photo Archie and we’ve got you. That’s you. Yeah?
AW: Yeah.
HB: That’s, so we know that you’re the third from the right. So, which one was Jack?
AW: Jack Cromberg.
HB: Yeah. We’ll go along the line. You just tell me when you, when I get to him.
HB: No. Do you think Jack, do you think Jack might be the one with the officer’s cap on?
AW: Yes.
HB: In the middle there next to you.
AW: Yeah. Yeah.
HB: Yeah.
Other: Do you want your glasses on, dad?
HB: Do you want your glasses? Would that be easier?
Other: They’re just behind you on that. On that, on that —
HB: Got it.
Other: That’s it, mate.
HB: Here we go. Is that going to be easier?
Other: I’ll get the picture a bit bigger.
HB: How’s that?
AW: Yeah.
HB: Is that better? Oh, I can see you now [laughs] There you go. We think that’s Jack.
AW: Yeah.
HB: And that’s you. So, Jack’s fourth from the right and you’re third from the right. See, they’re all very helpful. They’ve all got their Mae West on.
AW: Yeah.
HB: So it covers up the badge on their Jacket so we don’t know who’s who. Do you recognise any of them?
HB: It doesn’t matter if you don’t. it’s not, it’s not vital.
AW: Wasn’t that [unclear]
HB: And who?
AW: Hmmn?
HB: Who was the other one you said?
AW: Me.
HB: That’s you.
AW: Yeah.
HB: That’s Jack.
AW: Yeah.
HB: Any of the others? [pause] We’ll perhaps leave that for a minute and then we’ll just, we’ll just come back to that. Yeah. Because it looks even though it’s 1945 out of your log book it looks like you’re virtually flying, you know every other day really.
AW: Yeah.
HB: Who have we got signing this? [pause] We’ve got somebody called Fadden. Fadden. Was he the CO from 61 Squadron?
Other: Yeah?
HB: Squadron leader.
AW: Yeah.
HB: Aye. And we’ve got you going on, got you going on another day time raid to Farge. Farge. That was in the daytime.
Other: If you want to go back to that picture I’ve got one you can see.
HB: You can just scroll it along. Yeah. How’s that? Is that better? Is that clearer? Right. So, if we find. We think that’s Jack [Cromberg] Yeah.
AW: Yes.
HB: Oh, hang on. That’s you.
AW: Yes.
HB: Laughing. So, we’ve got these two lads on the end. On the right hand side. So, can you remember what, who they were?
AW: Were they gunners?
HB: Sorry?
AW: Were they, were they the gunners?
HB: That’s what I say. Really helpful. They’ve got their Mae Wests on so we can’t see what their, what their badge says. He’s a sergeant. And he’s definitely a flight sergeant. So, I don’t know. They could have been gunners. If we go the other way we’ve got these three lads. Can you see them? What’s he got on his arm? He’s, he’s got a sergeant’s chevrons on but I can’t see their [pause] No. I can’t see their arms. He might actually be an officer because he’s got nothing on his arms. But again helpful. You’ve all got your hands in your pockets [laughs] So, let’s have a look at him. We’ve got any ideas about him?
HB: What about them two? No? [pause] It doesn’t matter Archie. It’s not, it’s not vital. It’s not. That’s not vital. Right. What have we got here? We’ve got one here. [Komotau?] [Komotau?] You flew to [Komotau?]. That’s, that’s a long one. That’s eight hours. That was a night one and you got diverted to Stoney Cross. Can you remember that one? That flight.
AW: We got diverted.
HB: You got diverted. Yeah. What would that be for do you think? Might it be weather?
AW: Maybe.
HB: Right. So, we come to the end of April and Fadden’s signed it again. And then we’ve got May 1945 you’re mainly doing training but then you’ve got an interesting one here. On the 30th of May with Jack [Cromberg]. You’re doing a Cook’s Tour. Heligoland, Bremerhaven, Bremen, Hanover, Mittelland Canal, Munster and Wessel. What was a Cook’s Tour, Archie?
AW: When we, a Cook’s Tour was basically [pause] it was when you were letting them know what you were up to.
HB: So you, what? Did you have other people in the aircraft as well? What sort of people did you have in the aircraft?
AW: All your crew.
HB: The aircrew. Any guests? [pause] You didn’t sneak a couple of WAAFs on there did you?
AW: No.
HB: Did you have any of the ground crew? Any of your ground crew go with you?
AW: No.
HB: On the Cook’s Tour.
AW: No.
HB: No.
AW: No.
Other: You can tell us. You’re not, you won’t be in trouble. You won’t get in trouble now.
HB: I’m just going to pause this for a second.
HB: Right. We’ve just turned the tape recorder back on just while I finish my tea without spilling it. Now, we’ve got one here that’s a bit intriguing. I’ve never seen this in anybody’s log before, Archie and this is July the 3rd 1945 and it’s got Lancaster T-Tango or T-Tommy. Your pilot is Flight Lieutenant Shand and you’ve got written next to it, “post mortem.” Can you think what that would be about?
HB: No? Were you doing some training then? In July 1945 were you doing a bit of training?
HB: Right. I think what we’ll do Archie we’ll just pause, just pause this for a minute.
[recording paused]
If I keep talking to you. Right. I’ve just started the tape up again while we’ve just been having a look through the logbook. So, you were in Wellingtons flying out of 26 OTU on Course Number 54 and towards the end of that you’re flying in Wellingtons and that’s where you seem to have teamed up with Jack [Cromberg].
AW: Yeah.
HB: Yeah. What, can you remember the first flight you did with Jack?
HB: Because it looks to me, it looks to me like you got together with Jack quite early on at Wing.
AW: Yeah.
HB: At the at the OTU. Yes. It’s, and that’s pretty well all in Wellingtons with the OTU. Right. A flight and C flight. And then, ah you went, you went to Langar.
AW: Yeah.
HB: Do you remember being at Langar? What was that?
AW: That was conversion.
HB: Conversion.
AW: Yeah.
HB: So that’s the Heavy Conversion. Right. There’s [pause] Jack’s disappeared for a minute there and then you’ve got the first few flights in a Halifax. Halifax 2, Mark 2 and that’s with somebody called Thackeray. Flying Officer Thackeray. That’s right at the end of ’44. December ’44. Does that ring any bells with him? Was he, he must have been instantly forgettable [laughs] And then you do a lot, a lot of that training there with Jack [Cromberg]
AW: Yeah.
HB: And that takes you all the way through January 1945 and you’re still in Halifaxes. Ah right. Yeah. So you go, you go February the 1st you’re in Halifaxes still at Wing. At Langar, sorry. At Langar. And then you go to Number 5, LFS at Syerston and that’s in March 1945. So I would think you went on leave for a bit, didn’t you?
AW: [I wouldn’t know]
HB: No [laughs] Some of those leaves were worth forgetting weren’t they? It no good you smiling. I know. I know. Right. Yeah. And you, and you’re with Jack at Syerston. You’re then posted out March 16th to Skellingthorpe at, at 61 Squadron. Yeah. Yeah. That’s quite a, quite a lot of activity that in a short space of time, Archie. Did you, did you have much of a social life when you were in there at Skellingthorpe?
HB: Did they have dances on the station or did you have to go off the station to go to a dance?
AW: Off the station.
HB: Yeah. And where was your favourite place to go?
HB: Did you, did you sort of go into Lincoln a bit or did you stay? Did you stay local?
AW: We stayed local.
HB: You stayed. Yeah. Yeah. Just stayed local to the field. Yeah. Yeah. When, when you were coming towards the end of the war when the actual operations had finished where, where did you go towards the end? Did you go to demob or did you go to training?
AW: [unclear] I think we had, when I finished the tour.
HB: Yeah. When you finished your tour. Yeah. Yeah. Because you stopped flying operations. Sorry. You flew your last operation on the 18th of April 1945 to Komotau. Komotau. Komotau, I think it is. Which was a long one. Eight hours thirty five minutes that one and that was it. And then you seemed to do lots of training then but I didn’t know. Can you remember where you went to be demobbed?
HB: The, the last, I was just looking for the last entry in here because it’s got you still, you were still with 61 Squadron Waddington in 1946.
Other: Was that when you were on Lincolns? Were you training on Lincolns, dad?
HB: No. That’s, that’s all Lancaster stuff.
Other: Or was that —
HB: And you’re still, you’re still doing lots and lots of training. Cross countries, bullseye. Do you remember bullseye? The bullseye exercise? What was, what was that one? Remind me. I can’t remember.
HB: Right. Well, we seem to have come to the end of it. The end of the book. Yeah, I see you ended up in the decompression chamber doing your training. Do you remember that? Going in the decompression chamber? Where they lower the air pressure and you had to put your oxygen mask on because one or two have said it was a bit frightening. Well, I think that’s, that’s the back end of your, your logbook, Archie. So, what, when we come to the end of the war what did you do after the war when you finished?
HB: Did you, did you go back up to Scotland? [pause] Yeah.
AW: Yeah.
HB: And did you, did you have a job in Scotland before you joined and did you go back to your job?
AW: Yeah.
HB: And what was, what sort of work were you doing, Archie?
HB: It don’t, it don’t matter if you, if you can’t remember. And when, when it was all, when it was all finished and you went home what’s, what’s, what are the things that stick in your mind about your time in Bomber Command? What do you remember about Bomber Command? What do you think the best bits were?
AW: It was a, it was a different life.
HB: A different life. Yeah. Yeah. Very different. Yeah. And, and a bit sad at times as well.
AW: Yeah.
HB: Yeah. What do you think? What do you think was your saddest time there with them?
AW: I don’t think there was a sad day. I think it was. I don’t mean it wasn’t sad.
HB: What, what did you think of the job that you’d done?
AW: We had very little choice.
HB: Yeah.
AW: We were down there and that was it. [We had to be there]
HB: Yeah. I think I’ll stop the interview now Archie. Thanks ever so much for that.
[recording paused]
HB: How did you get out to South Africa, Archie? Can you remember?
AW: How?
HB: How did you get to South Africa?
Other: Am I interfering? Should I get out your way?
HB: No. No. No. No. Not at all. Yeah, I was just asking Archie how he got to South Africa. If he can remember how he got to South Africa. Did you go on a boat? Were there many of you?
Other: Tell him.



Harry Bartlett, “Interview with Archie Weir,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 12, 2024,

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