Interview with Rob Carter

Title

Interview with Rob Carter

Description

Rob Carter was born in the village of Scampton and reminisces about his life on the land before the war. He recounts the foundation of RAF Dunholme Lodge, which his house overlooked. During the war, he served in the Auxiliary Fire Service. He was called to put out the fire at an aircraft crash site near RAF Dunholme Lodge. He describes the pumps that the Auxiliary Fire Service used, Foster Gwynne and Coventry Climax. He recounts experiencing bomb attacks on Hull and Lincoln, in which the Lincoln Nurses’ Home was hit.

Creator

Publisher

IBCC Digital Archive

Date

2015-06-29

Contributor

Julie Williams
Heather Hughes

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

01:06:53 audio recording

Language

Type

Identifier

ACarterRH150629

Transcription

[Before the interview commences there is some preliminary chatter; not transcribed]
DE: Right. So, this is an interview with Bob Carter. My name is Dan Ellin. This is for the Bomber Command Digital Archive and we’re actually at Lincoln University. So Bob could you tell me a little bit about your childhood for a start please?
RC: Well I was, actually, I was born at Scampton, just on the Tillbridge Lane in a farm cottage there. But I don’t remember it because in those days seventy percent of village workers, men, worked, um, on the farm. A few came in to work in the factories in Lincoln but it was so labour intensive in those days on the farm and horses of course and um, so the men moved around mostly, very often for another sixpence a week. They’d moved to another place. And this is what happened I think in my life. I was born at Scampton there and we went then to Ingleby which is near Saxilby. I do just remember a little thing happening there actually with, our neighbour had geese and I found a goose egg and I thought I was doing a good thing and was taking this goose egg in to this woman and she sort of screamed at me when she saw me. I didn’t know that the goose, the geese, were actually sitting on these eggs to produce young ones [laughs], others and I dropped the thing because I was trying to shut this big farm gate with one hand and I suppose I’d only be about three years old. Anyway, we moved from there to Scothern. And then Scothern we moved to Welton. And I was five. In that time I was only five and done all those moves and I started school at Welton when I was five years old. So I was there. And then at twelve of course, at twelve years old the war started. And do you want me just to carry on?
DE: Yeah, yeah definitely, yeah.
RC: That was to us kids I suppose which would be wrong we would be all excited because this war was going to start until we, it grew on us that it was something more serious. But they were starting to rebuild Scampton at the time. I think it was about 1936 or somewhere there. Scampton was being rebuilt so we got used to seeing a bit of activity up there. But as, as the war went on then Dunholme Lodge, all these other airfields in Lincolnshire, Dunholme Lodge was made. And I’d, I’d left school, and went to, at fourteen I left school and went to work at Scothern Dairies for the harvest time of that year ‘cause I left at the Easter and then I moved to a, a farm halfway up Welton Cliff Road. Their name was Carter but no relation to me and then he asked me to go to his son’s at Faldingworth and he said he wants a tractor driver and so I went to, from Welton I used to cycle every day to Faldingworth and driving this tractor. And of course I wasn’t old enough to do that really but Jack the boss, he used to give me, if I had to come to Welton to borrow one of their machines, rolls and different things, he used to give me his trilby to wear so the policemen might think it was him on the, on the tractor. It never, it never dawned on me that’s why he was doing it at the time but as the years went by I realised and I never got stopped anyway.
So, but I had a year to - before I went there I was working on the farm up on Welton Cliff there and of course it’s horses was the main thing. In those days farms were known by how many horses. It would be a six horse farm or a ten horse farm or that sort of thing. Tractors were just coming in. They had a couple of tractors but I had to work and when the potatoes were being lifted I had to drive the carts up and down the fields to the pickers and I was only of course about fifteen then. And I had to yoke these horses out in a morning and some of them were quite tall and one, a mare, she was very awkward because when she saw me coming with her collar she would hold her head right high up and there was me trying to reach her so I thought, “Oh I’ll beat you to that. I’ll get in the manger at the front and then I’ll be able to reach.” So I threw this collar into the manger and I clambered in to it, into the manger, and yes, it did happen, as you might be thinking, yes, the mare backed off away from me and I couldn’t reach her then. But it only happened once and I never forgot that incident but I used to have six to do in the morning, six horses to yoke up and get them to the fields up as far as Scampton to the A15 there. His land went all that way and I was involved in that, then I got helping the shepherd in the winter time with some sheep out on a turnip field in all weathers. We just had to get these turnips up and cut up and feed, feed the sheep and um, eventually I had a chance to go to Dunholme Lodge Farm to White’s Dunholme Lodge Farm.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And I, so I moved employment and went to Dunholme Lodge Farm. I stayed there right on, right through the wartime. So and in this time they’d bought, they made the land at Dunholme Lodge into an airfield. And I lived on the road from Welton to Scampton so looking out our, our front room we looked straight up the runway of Dunholme Lodge. You could see, in the far distance you could see Lincoln Cathedral.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And all that and so we were seeing things first hand really and the, all the administration offices were all on the outskirts of the farm, on Dunholme Lodge Farm, so we saw quite a lot going on there in the daytime.
DE: Do you know how the farmer felt about losing some of his land to the airfield?
RC: No ‘cause it happened when I went there so I don’t know. I was, I was thinking about that only the other day. They must have took about half of his land.
DE: Ahum.
RC: That he had. When I think what he had was down towards Dunholme and then we got the land back after the war. But they must have taken half of his land. Yeah.
DE: So you’re saying you were living at the end of the runway there. Can you, any, any stories you can, you can tell?
RC: Yes. We, we were supplied with a metal table in, in our kitchen because we were within, I think it was eight hundred yards of the perimeter of Dunholme Lodge. So we were allowed to have a better shelter, bomb shelter.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Which was very handy until you’d knock your knees against it [laughs]. Being steel it didn’t give up, give way at all. But eventually they asked if we would give it up. They wanted to send them to London because London was getting all the bombing and so we did give it up eventually and went back to a wooden table.
But when they were taking off northwards they were coming almost straight for our house we were the last house up that road at the time. Today there’s quite a lot of houses gone beyond it now
DE: Ahum
RC: All at the back there as well. It was all fields and they were so low we used to wave to the pilot and the co-pilot, the flight engineer as they went past they were so low. We could see them.
And my mother used to take in, we had a spare bedroom. Eventually my mother used to take in the airman’s wives that had came to see their husband for a weekend or week or something like that. And she said, “I won’t take flyers in case anything happened“ but she eventually did and she took this couple in actually. Young couple, hadn’t been married long and they were from Ipswich and he was, he was in 44 squadron which was a Rhodesian squadron and the 44 was stationed there at one time and he was in - their lettering was KM and he was in S. S for Sugar. And she the, the briefing room used to be down near what is known now as William Farr School. Down there their briefing office and so she used to walk with him around with him there when he went for his briefing in the afternoon and then they’d be away at night. And I was in the local fire service and I had to do every fifth night. I had to do duty and one night I was going home next morning at 6 o’clock, had to get ready and go to work on the farm and I was watching them coming in and of course they were quite low. They were going, they were landing north to south in the morning and I saw KMB go past.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Quite plain to see because they were very low so you couldn’t miss it. Anyway when I got around the back the back of our house going in the back door Kath was looking out the bedroom window, his wife and I said, “Has he come in yet?” She said, “He’s just gone in.” and I said, “No that was B. That wasn’t S”. She said, “No it was S.” so I thought well I’m not arguing. I had a good plain view of it, broad view of it and so I left it at that.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Off I went to work at the farm. Then during the morning I had reason to go around into our barn at Dunholme Lodge for something and just over the fence was all the administration offices of the RAF and such like and I saw this officer with this woman. Be about, getting on for a hundred yards away from me I think and I thought oh that does look like Kath. Anyway we’d finished work at 12 o’clock on a Saturday so I went home 12 o’clock and I knew as soon as I walked in our back door there was something was wrong I thought. So I said to my mother what’s wrong. She said, “Frank’s hasn’t come back”. I said oh. She said, “No they’ve been and picked her up.” I said, “Oh I knew that was her.” I said I saw her from the farmyard. I said I thought that looks like Kath and they’d been and collected her and she stayed with us a little while after that and then we found out he’d been taken prisoner
And eventually it was getting, this was getting on late in the war of course and they escaped and got home again but they, they escaped into, into Russian lines ‘cause they came down to see us then after he’d got home again and they said they’d escaped into the Russian lines and that was worse than being with the Germans. They nearly got shot with the Russians, convincing them who they were. And one newspaper had it, the headline - Home By Way of Odessa - and that was the way they’d come home and he told us, he said, he didn’t tell us they were attacking Stuttgart. I never, as we were talking after ‘cause they came up and had a holiday with us and he said he doesn’t know if he was thrown out, blown out or how he got out of his aircraft all he remembered was landing in this street in Stuttgart and the SS women bent over him, questioned him, getting to know where he was from all the rest of it before he came to his senses and all the rest of it and they would never let on and when he was a prisoner of war he was in solitary confinement because he just wouldn’t talk and they used to bring him out every morning the Germans did in the office, into the office and quiz him and said to him one morning, “Ah Sergeant Walters. Now then, let’s see, Scampton wasn’t it?” and he thought wow you’re only two fields away but he said I never would let on where he was and Dunholme Lodge was only a couple of fields from Scampton anyway and he wouldn’t, he wouldn’t tell them where he was from.
But they came and had this holiday with us and I had the good fortune ‘cause I went - going back to the farm.
DE: Ahum
RC: You couldn’t change jobs other than farm. Well you could if you wanted to go in to the army. If you went, if you left the farm you got automatically got called up in to the army.
DE: Ahum.
RC: But I think it was about 1947 when that was lifted and I couldn’t wait to get off to try and get a job with a bit better wage to it. And I started truck driving.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And that really was the basis of my working life through was on the trucks so I used to get down to Ipswich when Fysons had a factory here in Lincoln and we used to take stuff from there to Fysons in Ipswich and I used to call and see Kath and Franl and stop the night with them sometime if I wasn’t going to get home again. Stopped the night with them.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And he’d got, he was in to civvy street then of course and he was making himself a motorbike and sidecar in his shed. Building this all up and everything and then he contacted us one week and he said, “You’ll never guess.” So we said, “What?” He’d got this thing done but he couldn’t get it out his shed. He had to take the side of his shed off or something to get the thing out of his, out of his shed yeah. But yes I haven’t heard from them for years. I don’t suppose they’re alive. They were older than me so.
DE: Ahum.
RC: I suppose they’ve passed on now. Yeah.
DE: But you struck up a friendship while they were living with you and carried on.
RC: Oh yes. Yes, we, we, they used to come. We used to go down to the Nelson at Dunholme. They liked that seemed to like that pub and we used to go down there with them and yes. So, well I think at the time she was only about eighteen but I have a newspaper, the Daily Mirror, from that time and they are on the front page, Kath and Frank are, and the Mirror paid for them a weekend in London and it was saying about how he’d been a prisoner of war and such like and they paid for the to have the weekend in London for them both, bought her an outfit and top seat in a, in a theatre. Top seat - seventeen and sixpence. That was the price of a top seat in those days. Yeah they gave them weekend out and then they came up to see us and we couldn’t believe it. My sister, a younger sister of mine went to our door that morning and picked up the paper – the Mirror.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And she’s looking at it walking back up the hallway and said, “That’s Frank and Kath,” and blimey we are famous yeah.
DE: Smashing. You say you were in a, in a bit of a hurry to get out of farm work as soon as you could. Was, was -
RC: Well the wages weren’t good.
DE: Ahuh.
RC: The wages weren’t good and there was better, the war was over and so there were better opportunities about plus there was no fear of getting pulled in to the army or something like that.
DE: Ahum.
RC: If, if, if you left. You could leave the farm but they’d have you for your fitness and what not straightaway and have you in in no time. Or I think it was coalmines as well where they were, they didn’t have to enlist without they were called up. So, yes so I travelled the length and the breadth of this country and it came in handy for some people. People started to go more around the country for their holidays and people, see they didn’t have cars. In my younger days there, there was only two people in Welton had cars. Nobody else had a car.
DE: Ahuh.
RC: But people got their own cars and people very often would come to me, hey Bob how do you get to so and so wherever they were going holidaying and I was often having people coming on a Friday or something and say oh tomorrow we’re going to - where’s the best way to go sort of thing.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And this was of course before motorways. Even the A1 was only just an ordinary road. It wasn’t even a dual carriageway.
DE: Yeah.
RC: Dual carriageways became a new thing to have dual carriageways before motorways and such like.
DE: So who would be the two people in the village that had a car then?
RC: There was a shop. Well they had a van. Well they had a van. It’s now the co-op at Welton. It was some people called Applewhite.
DE: Ahum.
RC: They had, they had a van and the people who had a car - the post office did. I think, can’t remember what they did? I think another family did have a car I suppose he was business of some sort. But our job when we left school used to be, “Don’t run off you lads. I want a push with my car” and that used to be and we’d push him from the school was, it’s flats now I think almost on Welton Green and that was the only school there was in Welton. Just this one building. So I did all my education there and the woman who had the post office at Welton, her name was Crosby but she eventually married George Howton [?] who were our teacher and it was him that wanted a push with his car and we’d push him right down as far as Hackthorn Lane before the thing struck up and he daren’t stop it again so he just left us all to walk back. We tried to get out of school quick before he mentioned this big word, “Don’t go away lads,” you know. Oh dear. Here we go again. Yeah. Good old days.
DE: Marvellous.
RC: Yeah.
DE: So you, you were showing us earlier some photographs which you’ve kindly let us scan for the archive. There’s one with some people in the Home Guard and one with, with Auxiliary Firemen. Can you tell us a little about those pictures?
RC: Yes well like I was showing you the photographs of dad’s armies as it’s called, the Home Guard were called. My dad was a corporal and our next door neighbour was also a corporal and then there were others. And there was one officer. Oh the village blacksmith he was a sergeant. But we were doing, it would be for November memorial I should think. There was this parade on at Welton and the Home Guard from around about, from Dunholme and all those places I think they came as well but my dad and Harry Lawrence next door they were going to be guard of honour at the cenotaph at Welton and they were the only two with rifles anyway. And so Harry being smaller, a bit smaller than my dad came around ‘cause he lived next door to us and he was concerned that they would get it together when they sloped arms and presented arms you see and my dad said to him, my dad had been in the army when he was younger and he said, “Don’t worry I’ll count to you”. He said, “I’ll say one two three one two three without anybody really hearing,” he said so they’d got this all worked out. So they thought they’d give it a try in our kitchen. So they stood there side by side and my dad said, “One two three one two three,” and they went to slope arms, of course they had to do it all properly. They had to have, they had to have the old bayonets fixed as well. The old type bayonets. I don’t know, about thirteen inches long, and Harry stuck his straight through our kitchen window - ceiling. And as the, as the thing came on television what not - Dad’s Army I think about that occasion. I thought, oh so funny. They needn’t have to have the bayonet fixed on. It didn’t matter at that time. But they had to everything proper yeah. Oh, so funny that was.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Yeah.
DE: The other photo you had was the Auxiliary Fire Service.
RC: Yes the fire service. We were, we had two of the places at the, down in the backstreet. One for the pump and the other for the, for the room where we, well the beds in it and the table, what not where we - I joined the fire service there. You had to be the Home Guard or something. It wasn’t everybody had a fire service in the village. We had one so I joined the fire service.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And we went out to one or two crashes and what not. We went out on to Dunholme Lodge when it was being, apparently they were laying the runway at the time but of course there wasn’t much light to be going on and there was an Irishman there, I think it was an Irishman and I think he’d been the night watchman or something over all the goings on there but something had caught fire and the fire engine had, oh it was the RAF the RAF had got one there that’s right. And they’d used foam on this fire and -
DE: Ahum.
RC: We got there and this chap was right panicking. He’d lost his watch. His pocket watch and of course you’d got blobs of foam about and he was trying to find tis pocket watch. Well I thought he wasn’t bothered about the fire or anything it was his watch he was looking for. Yeah. He didn’t find it while I was there anyway. He lost his, why they put foam. Water would have done but yeah there was quite a few Dads Army type of things happened then when you look back. No wonder they made a programme of it really. It was silly things did happen yeah.
DE: So how did being an auxiliary fireman fit in with, with working on the farm?
RC: It had to fit in. That’s it. We used to be on every fifth night from 10 o’clock till six in the morning. Then you’d got to go to work. If, you know like if there’d been a red warning and you’d stayed you couldn’t go to bed but it was alright you could go to bed if there was no red warning.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And we were attached to Charles Warner’s had a garage at the top Wragby Road, top of Lindum Hill, Wragby Road area and we were attached to them and we were supposed to let them know if we were turning out. I think really we were supposed to wait until they said we could go but we found out if we did that we’d never go. They’d never let us go. They’d say oh we’ll go first if they need two pumps we’ll call you out. So when we did have to turn out we’d wait while they’d gone then we’d ring Lincoln and tell them it was urgent and we’d turned else we’d never have got out.
RC: We went to Hull one night.
DE: Really?
RC: The old way when you had to go around Gainsborough and around
DE: Oh of course, yeah. Yeah.
RC: Oh I tell you what. That night, that was frightening. Really frightening. Terrible experience, that, I mean. It really took a pounding Hull did. And not knowing the place as well.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And it sounds silly really but one of the, well he was our boss really of the crew I was with [?] he said, “Have a look down there and see if you can see a hydrant”. Well a hydrant in those days I think they’re on the floor now. There used to be a yellow plate on the wall and you knew that the hydrant then was four feet from that. And the silly thing was that the ships that was in the dock and all the the dock warehouses were blazing away and we couldn’t get near. All that water and we couldn’t get near it cause the ships were burning anyway and so he said see if there’s a hydrant around there and I’m looking for this for the plates on the wall or something and I just – “there aint one around here” and then a voice in the dark, a voice in the dark alleyway said, “Isn’t there one around here”, and I looked - it made me jump at first and there was this, a woman’s voice and it was this young, I don’t know how old she’d be - eighteen or nineteen nearly about my age and she said, “Our house has been hit” and I said well, “you didn’t ought to be here. There’s a police station down there”, I told her where the police station was. I said go there.
Anyway, when I went, I’m looking around and realised that our crowd had gone.
DE: Ahum
RC: And I thought now where has everybody gone? Here I am. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know the place at all and just down the road was a fire station so I went down and I said that I was with Welton I said and they said oh they’ve gone down to a wood yard down, I forget the road now to me it didn’t mean a thing and he said alright you can stay here and take messages. I thought -charming. I don’t even know the place and I’ve got to go to other pumps and I didn’t have to go with any luckily enough and after about an hour our pump turned up. They came back from this wood yard and so and we came home.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And like I say when you got home you still had to go to work.
DE: Ahum.
RC: You know. That’s how it was in those days. Yeah.
DE: Yeah so what so what so what sort of pump did you have and how many people?
RC: Foster Gwynne, Foster Gwynne pump. Made in Lincoln. They was mainly Coventry Climax pumps and we used to have competitions sometimes and they would, they would seize up sometimes some of these Coventry Climaxes would and they’d overheat and our Foster Gwynne’s would be whooping it out - two channels sixty pound pressure. Brilliant little pump it was. It was made in Lincoln that was.
DE: Ahum
RC: And I often wonder who finished up getting that. And most of the pumps the Coventry Climaxes they were painted grey or red. Ours was its original chrome and everything and that’s why we used to go around on a Saturday afternoon polishing it. We were proud of our little pump.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And they couldn’t do anything about it but they were a bit jealous of it I think some of the bigger fire stations that we had this little pump. Yes we used to have some good fun with that. Yeah.
DE: And how many people were you? Were you, were -
RC: It was a five man pump that was.
DE: Right.
RC: Yeah. It was. I had to take, it was my job to take the first roll of hose and you’d stand there with your arm out while the number two came and grab it as it came past, connect it then I had to at the back of the pump get the third hose, length of hose.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And the, and the hand pump and run off down with that.
DE: And what sort of vehicle pulled the thing?
RC: Oh a Daimler. I don’t know whose it had been but obviously it had taken over by the government obviously. Yeah we had this Daimler. Lovely car
DE: Ahum
RC: By jove it was. Yeah we had that at Welton yeah, yeah.
DE: How did, how did you feel being in the fire service then?
RC: Pardon?
DE: How did you feel being in the fire service?
RC: Well, we, we felt one up on the Home Guard anyway. At least we were one point higher than them. Not a lot was said on that line really I suppose. Its age wise you know. I was lucky that I enquired there and they said yeah we need another. We need another one in ours to make our numbers up for the pump and you see they needed at least well needed about thirty all together. They needed twenty five for the pump people and then there was always somebody would have to stay on the phone if you turned out.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And that’s how we got by and like I was saying before we, we in the fire service we got paid for it. I can’t remember what it was but we used to get it monthly. But it was, especially if you worked on the farm it was very nice. It was, I can’t remember now probably a fiver if that much but it was always appreciated.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And then there was a parade or something come along so we were having a bit of a practice at marching in the back street of Walton. Always having a bit of little laugh between us about it and then we did an about turn and there was two of the officers from Lincoln [laughs]. They halted us when we got to them. They tore us a strip off and said you’ll be better than them at Buckingham palace by the time they finished with us so we were put through our paces a bit but I think there was some big parade going to be in the village and we was going to turn out as well, we had to have to turn out as well with them yeah.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Yeah there was some good times on it yeah.
DE: Did you get much training?
RC: No, no you didn’t. There really wasn’t too much training. One thing you had to do you had to be able to carry from off the first floor with a ladder up to the first, up to the second floor. You had to be able to carry an eleven stone person up on his back down this and I remember I did it.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And I was only about eighteen but you know I worked on the farm throwing sacks of corn about and you were used to, you know and if the person you’re carrying just stays limp and doesn’t try and do it for you sort of thing.
DE: Ahum.
RC: It wasn’t too bad. And we were talking about the rectory had a big place like that where we were, a flat roof and so we was able to do it from that yeah. And he had some nice pear trees in that rectory as well. They were very nice. So sometimes if the red warning was on, we couldn’t go to bed so we used to walk around and have a pear.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Yeah.
DE: Can you explain red warning for us?
RC: Well that’s when there’s a raid on sort of thing and the night that Lincoln Nurses’ Home got hit that was one Sunday teatime.
DE: Ahum.
RC: I was at home at about half past five. We heard this explosion even at, even at Welton and we came out and stood outside our back door which was Hackthorn side sort of thing and to anybody listening it was Hackthorn out our back door, out that way but we heard this German and looked up and it was just broken cloud up above but I did just see it.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Go from cloud to cloud sort of thing but they did get it down over Grimsby. But the, the Kirton Lindsey was fighters and oh five minutes more after that there was the spitfires err Hurricanes going towards Lincoln from Kirton Lindsey way and you felt so helpless. You felt like saying, “Oi they’ve gone that way,” and anyway he was shot down near Grimsby. Yeah. I remember that happening. We didn’t know while later on that it was near the Nurse’s Home where the bomb went off but there was, it was obvious that Ruston’s, they, I mean the Germans knew about Ruston’s and that’s why but they used to say that lord Haw-haw used to come on and break into English radio, Lord Haw-haw and he, for Germany and he said one night we shall not bomb Lincoln Cathedral because our pilots know the way to Sheffield when they get to Lincoln Cathedral. I remember that happening yeah. He’d break into the, I think it was the 9 o’clock news on the radio.
DE: Ahum
RC: Not every night but it made people put the radio in case he did, hear what he had to say. Yeah. Lord Haw-haw yeah.
DE: Did you ever witness any aeroplane crashes then when you were in the fire service?
RC: The one, that one on, on at Scothern on a Saturday afternoon. There was a Lancaster at, oh three parts of the way up that cliff road Welton Cliff Road toward Scampton, a Lancaster and I think he must have run out of fuel. No fire or anything and he was just on top of a hedge in a way, just run into a hedge. Another, another half a mile he’d have been at Scampton sort of thing but I think they must, but they took it to bits and took it away again.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Yeah that was about the only actual fires that we, we, we saw in our time yeah.
DE: You were talking earlier about another? Another crash that you’d attended?
[pause]
Where there was another crew as well, another fire crew as well.
RC: Oh that was when the, the RAF crew.
DE: Ahum.
RC: That was the one at Scothern.
DE: Right you talked.
RC: If we’d known where they were from Welton they said Dunholme but in those days it was Dunholme Lodge was the thing that stuck in your mind.
DE: Ahum.
RC: But Dunholme village wasn’t that way at all. If we’d known it was actually, it would look like Dunholme cause Scothern from that angle was beyond Dunholme.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And if that woman had said, you know it looked like Dunholme. Dunholme was there and Dunholme Lodge was over on the right. We would have been straight there, we’d have been there by the time we were going to Dunholme Lodge and finding them still gawping there down the road at all the smoke.
DE: Ahuh.
RC: We’d have been, we’d have been there but we couldn’t have done anything.
DE: Ahum
RC: The biggest pieces was the wheels.
DE: Really?
RC: There was just nothing left of it. It hit the high cables.
DE: Ahum.
RC: It hit the yeah hit the high cables and it just blew it to pieces. I don’t think there was a bomb on board and been blown to pieces that way. It might have had but I didn’t hear exactly. I know it had hit the cables.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Yeah and they were all killed on it yeah.
DE: Talking about some, some probably happier times did you, talking about seeing certain, certain people?
RC: Oh yeah, yeah well at the Black Bull at Welton was the nearest pub for them just out of Scampton and I was at the green one, near the green, Black Bull area one night and this car pulled up and these two young RAF fellows got out and a dog with them and off they went in to the Black Bull for a drink. And then this, this raid took place down to the dams.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And it became more, it was all in the news quite a while every day about this busting the dams and dambusters and all this, that and the other and Gibson’s photograph became more prominent in the papers and then one day I’m looking at the paper and I looked at this, this photo and I thought I don’t believe this and it was Gibson and another man. Looking at him this was one of the photos of the fellows I’d seen that day outside the Black Bull.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And the dog would have been Nigger. I mean it fussed around me and I thought nothing of it at the time. I mean I liked dogs and thought of nothing but you know I can do it, I in my own mind I can say I was stood near him but it’s only as he’s became more popular, his picture was always in the paper it suddenly struck me I thought he was one of them blokes.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Yeah. And then they was on about when his dog got run over. His, his his batman was also his truck driver he got fourteen day [unclear] for that.
DE: Did he?
RC: Yeah. We used to get, we used to know this from some of the lads, ordinary lads that used to come into the Black Bull used to play darts with or whatever, football or something used to play football with us yeah and they said it was outside. One airman, and I thought he said one of the airmen he’d been to when he was getting his crews together and he’d been to the middle another airfield forgotten the name of it just south of Lincoln anyway but he was I was just been reading a book the other day and it said outside Scampton main gates.
DE: Ahum
RC: And I thought these blokes had told me at the time it was outside this other camp main gates that he was getting his crews together ready for this raid but he said he got two weeks [unclear] for letting the dog get out the - and that was another thing, they used to have open days at Scampton and Hemswell.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And some of the lads would say, “Are you coming on Saturday Bob?” and I’d say, “Oh yeah of course and I said yeah see Nigger’s grave” and they said, “You won’t. This year you’ve got to go a different way.” ‘Cause I knew Scampton, I saw it built and everything and used to go past it a lot and they were saying, they said to , “You know last year when you went this way, that way,” and I said, “Yeah.”, “Oh you’re not doing that this year you’ve got to inside the main gates and you’ve got to go left,” and they was telling me where and I knew where they meant you see and I said oh we shan’t go past Nigger’s grave then and they said, “You will. We’ve moved it”. And all they’d done was pull the cross up and put it somewhere else and then there was a bit back in the Echo I was reading they was on about where was Nigger buried and I thought I bet nobody really knows - this is between me and you – I thought nobody really knows where that dog was buried. They just used to move the jolly cross to suit them. Yeah
DE: Have to get Time Team to
RC: Yeah.
DE: To come up.
RC: Oh dear yeah but yes those were good days out they were yeah ‘cause they, when they first opened I was, I used to be errand boy for a local butcher at Welton before I left school. Used to go before school in the morning, after school at night and all day on a Saturday and me and there was the butcher and he had the man that worked for him Ken [unclear]
DE: Ahum.
RC: And Ken used to do Scampton and Hemswell married quarters. There was eleven officers houses at Hemswell and err Scothern err Scampton.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And thirty four ordinary house and Hemswell was just the same they had thirty four and we used to ‘cause you see rationing was on so you had to be joined with a butcher somewhere.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And we used to do them on a Saturday morning and another lad who worked for them for a bit he used to go with the boss himself and he used to do Welton and Dunholme. They used to come back for dinner and then after dinner the boss and Ken who I’d been with they used to go to Snarford and Foldingworth and out that way on the butchers round with the joint sort of thing, the rations and that sort of thing and me and the other lad used to stop and used to scrub the shop and the slaughterhouse.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Cause they used to slaughter a lot of their own animals themselves there and I used to get six shillings a week for that and then when I was leaving school he wanted me to go full time. Oh and we used to have my meals there as well on a Saturday but he wanted me to go there full time and, and have my meals at home - for eight shillings. And I was getting, and my dad said you get a pound on a farm and that’s how I come to really go on a farm. That’s all they used to pay you for that. There wasn’t a joint of meat I didn’t know. I used to make stones of sausages and they were renowned for their sausage at Welton, their sausage. I can say their name now cause they’re not alive now – Applewhite. He was renowned for his sausages. His Lincolnshire sausages. I made stones of the things before I went to school in the morning.
And then there was one morning I got an order he wanted me to take to the farmer at Dunholme - a Mr Lilley and so off I went on my bike. This was before I went to school and there’s me going down down there and while I’m going down there Ryland towards Dunholme and there was a Hampden cause this was before Lancaster.
DE: Yeah.
RC: And I thought what’s he doing just going around and around like that. And then I saw a parachute come out of it and I thought wow a chap’s jumped out of that and I eventually got to Lilley’s down at Dunholme and they used to, nobody locked the doors, they just used to shout come in and I knocked on the door and come in and I went in and there was an airman sat there.
DE: Ahum.
RC: With his hand wrapped up and it wasn’t him that I’d seen jump out the aircraft but he had jumped out of it. And he’d landed in the hedge of this farmhouse and he’d hurt his thumb.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And what had, what had happened was that the Hampden couldn’t get it’s wheels down but they jumped out and then he got his wheels down and he landed safely at Scampto. Yeah but the crew had all, but the pilot, had jumped out and he was, what he was doing as well he was using fuel up as well and then he would belly land it somewhere. That was the plan.
DE: Ahum.
RC: But then his wheels came down so he went to Scampton and landed yeah but the chap sat in the house waiting for the ambulance to come and whoever was going to come like to him and I think he’d broke his thumb or something yeah. So you saw a bit of life at times.
DE: Going back to the dams raid from Scampton.
RC: Ahum.
DE: The first time I met you, you told me a story about seeing them take off.
RC: Oh yeah. Yeah we had a like we’ve had lately a lovely, lovely day you know the weather had been absolutely perfect and me and the lad next door to us George Lawrence I bumped into him only a couple of weeks ago in Gainsborough market and we remarked about this story which I’m about to tell you. So we stood there talking away and suddenly we heard the familiar noise of these Lancasters and we looked towards Scampton and there’s these three Lancasters flying ever so low and weren’t attempting to gain height at all. They were just, and we were almost speechless seeing them so low and they went by and George said to me, “Look they’re sending them barrels of beer now.” and I said, “Yeah.” and off they went to over between Welton and Hackthorn and ever so low not trying to get any higher. Course then when we heard the news and as time went on we found it was a low level job all the way anyway and we realised that what we’d seen were the bombs, the different type of bombs that they’d got on yeah. But we never, we never saw any more take off that night from Scampton although there was more went but I don’t know. I don’t know which way those three had took off because the way they were coming there wasn’t a runway facing that way so they must have took off somewhere, circled around and then got the height they wanted to be and that was it and off they went. Yeah. Saw that quite clear, yeah.
DE: Well that’s smashing. I think I’ve well I’m almost running out of questions. What do you, what are your feelings about the way bomber command has been remembered over the last seventy years?
RC: Oh I think it’s very good I, I I’ve got loads of books on it and there’s, there’s, there was three books came out about, with all the crashes that happened, where they’d flown from, where they’d been going to. I can’t remember the name of them. Have you seen them?
DE: I think so, yeah.
RC: But we later on in life we lived in Lincoln and we had a bed and breakfast place and we had these books and sort of things out.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Not to be taken away. Then we suddenly find that I think its number three book was missing. We must have had somebody staying with us saw something in it that rung a bell with them, with, about someone they knew probably and they must have took it home.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And they’re out of print now. They’re out of print. I couldn’t get another one.
DE: Oh dear.
RC: I went to Ruddocks and they said oh they’re out of print now. So I’ve got the other two which, you know and I often get them out. I think oh yeah I remember that one. They’d ring a bell with me but yes cause it was sad about that because any of those Lancaster books I have to refrain myself a bit now ‘cause the bookshelves tend to get rather full you know but yeah I love reading about them.
DE: Yeah.
DE: Yeah so these books did you manage to go through them and find crashes that you knew about?
RC: Yeah, yeah two like I say two of them, the other one someone took it home anyway with them and if you notice at the time you could say something you know, have you pick a book up by the way.
DE: Yeah.
RC: So it was more sad because I couldn’t get another.
DE: Ahum.
RC: I don’t know how much they were at the time but that weren’t the point if I could have got another but no so I’ve just got the two of them. I’ve got loads of other sort as well about the Lancasters but those have got, they’ve the crew in and 44 squadron they were Rhodesian squadron actually at Dunholme Lodge. I think they came from, I think they came from up Brigg side some, not Brigg near to Cleethorpes side somewhere like that. Ludford, not Ludford but somewhere like up there I think they came.
DE: Ahum.
RC: To Dunholme Lodge oh and then after they’d left Dunholme Lodge we got, we got the Polish people. Now that was an experience that was.
DE: Really.
RC: Oh had a laugh with them at Welton we used to have. On bikes a lot of them.
DE: Yeah.
RC: And of course they didn’t, Poland didn’t ride on the same side of the road as we did but that didn’t matter to them they – dear, dear me. We, yeah, they used to be all over the road with their bikes and didn’t get involved with the local people very much. Anyway, us lads was at the fish shop one night. I mean Welton now has a good name, it’s always had a good name, Welton fish but anyway I went at the fish shop one night and this young oh and the I’ll say this the WAAFs Polish WAAFs most of them most could go on a slimming course I’ll put it that way and we were at the fish shop this night and this really smart girl WAAF came along. Polish. And she just wanted a bag of chips and there was three or four of us and I was always up for a dare and anyway so one of them said I bet you don’t speak to her when she comes out so I said I bet bet I dare so anyway out she came and I said I’ll push your bike and you eat your chips and I tried to explain to her that and she just sort of smiled and I walked with her bike and at Welton village hall used to be the that’s where Polish people were stationed when they come and Welton well not the old one, it’s a new one but it used to be used to be WAAF community meeting place where that was and we got nearly there and thought I’d better not go any further. I was about fifty, a hundred yards away from there and I sort of indicated to her that I wasn’t coming any further and so off she went and I went back and having a good laugh we was you see and anyway after that I got talking to must have been some English airmen that was there and I never saw this WAAF again you see. I never saw her again and they said she’d been moved and they said oh if they know that she’d been talking to an Englishman they’d move her to another camp ‘cause I never saw her again.
DE: Ahum.
RC: I saw some that I used to see regularly you know but that one, she was really a lovely looking lass and you know quite slim compared to what all the others were yeah and they reckoned yeah reckoned they had moved her to another camp.
DE: Crikey.
RC: Yeah so yeah but yeah some these things you suddenly remember again. You know.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Memories.
DE: The other things that you brought with you are some Italian POW.
RC: Oh yes they were, they were two Italians. We had two Italian prisoners who worked with us at Dunholme Lodge and there’s a cottage down there now it’s used as a memorial place.
DE: Ahum.
RC: For Dunholme I don’t know if you’ve been to it or not down at the bottom of the farmyard yeah and they, there was three of them. Two smallish fellas - Italians and this really biggish bloke and he only had to do two hours a day on the farm and quite honestly we could do without him. He was useless. Anyway and there would be I think they came from Kirton Lindsay there were two camps there was a German and an Italian camp there. Anyway I got to be sort of spokesman for these two lads, got to understand them a little bit and any problems they had I’d see David Whites and you know tell him. Anyway they, they were saying, and they good little workers as well they were and they were saying something about the food and they said would I ask David Whites if he could send him back to camp and they would look after themselves. So righto so when I saw the boss I said I don’t reckon they get much food I reckon. And he used to walk into Lincoln this fellow did you see at the weekend and they reckon he knew a woman in Lincoln and he was taking her food. So anyway David Whites got it done and they took him back to camp and these two lads managed on, and do you know the three months they really were like little pigs. You know they really did put some weight on Gino [?[ [unclear] and Mosello[?] [unclear]
DE: Ahum.
RC: Mosello Ovello [?] [unclear] Italy – that’s, that was his address. I used to write to him when they went back after the war and I went, as I say they stayed until the end of the war until they were repatriated. And then they have open days at Dunholme Lodge now. Their gardens. About twice a year and the spring and over the years David Whites married, he married a vet. His wife was a vet. She’s died now. But one of the Italians was so excited one day he was on about Mr Whites. And I said yeah? That’s the vet’s car. He’d seen them around one of the crew yards plenty kissy kissy he said [laughs] and eventually he did marry the vet and now he’s got, he’s got two, I don’t know if he’s got a daughter but he’s got two sons and they still live up there. And I thought when had this place, remembrance place, bottom of the farm and opened up the, the farm and I thought I’ll have to have a look around there one of these times so I went one year. Well when they found out that I knew these Italian prisoners I’m the only one now alive that worked there, you see, you know.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And when they knew that I was, I knew these Italians and reeled off the address like I did you just now I said yeah I used to write to them. Oh they thought it was marvellous they did.
DE: Ahuh.
RC: And you know I’m sort of very friendly with them now and go up and look around and they always get on and say we never met anyone who knew these Italian prisoners. I said oh yeah I remember them coming, I remember them when they went I said.
DE: Ahum.
RC: So I was there until I was about twenty five or six something like that I worked there. They were nice lads and one of them wanted me to go to Italy and marry his sister or something yeah but Marcello Orvello [?] yes they were nice lads and they used to, one of them used to come to the dances at Welton and I used to say to them they’d be no bother to you if you’re no bother to them.
DE: Ahuh.
RC: I was sort of in charge of, no I wasn’t nobody bothers them. And [?] used to love it, coming to the village dance at Welton but they used to say you remember [unclear] I used to smoke then they used to bring me their full packet of cigarettes cause they, neither of them smoked then like.
DE: Ahum.
RC: And with this here other fella and it turned out actually when he was taken back to camp they said to me used to say to me the next day I wasn’t to bring any food with me, good eat with them. [unclear] they called food [unclear] you had to eat with them so I said to me mother I didn’t need a pack up.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Marcello [?] and [unclear] want me to have my dinner with them. What I’m going to get I don’t know and I went with them and they did it all over the open fire in a frying pan sort of thing. Everything went into this frying pan sort of thing and they also showed me the room he had, the other bloke had a room on the right. They was upstairs and on the back of the door was a swastika of the other fella.
DE: Ahum of the other guy, right.
RC: They got rid of. Yeah and he was a German but they were Italian so they must have been at Kirton Lindsay camp both of them.
DE: So they were living in a farm building?
RC: Yeah oh yes it’s still there now and it’s used a remembrance place now. Yeah
DE: And what sort of work were they doing on the farm?
RC: Same work yeah what we did.
DE: Ahum.
RC: Yeah one of them used to drive one of the tractors in the end.
RC: And they had quite a bit of freedom to come and go.
DE: Oh yeah yeah they were no bother them lads weren’t no. But yes they told me their address and if ever I was in Italy. They told me around to visit. I’ve been to Italy just over in to Italy once on a holiday like but I never got around to going. Well actually [?] left me a photograph, he said it was his sister, come and marry my sister you know. And I haven’t got it. I don’t know where it went to, yeah.
RC: But there wasn’t any sort of hard feelings with them being in the village.
DE: No, no, no, no, no we had some good times together but, but the Whites were over the moon because they’d met someone who was still alive that worked on the farm and knew these Italians. Their dad used to tell them about these Italian prisoners oh yes [unclear] and [unclear]. [unclear]. I said I wrote letters there. They didn’t get there. I used to get them back. The trouble was when I got a reply I couldn’t read it and in finding somebody in Welton who could decipher it all and it was very, very difficult and I think that’s what
DE: Right.
RC: In the end we sort of drifted apart. We never, you know, so what he was actually saying in the letters. Well he did say, I got it done once, would I ask Mr Whites if he would get them back to come and work for him again
DE: Ahum
RC: Yeah they loved it there. And we got the land back from Dunholme Lodge as well while they was with us as well and had all that to plough up.
DE: Right.
RC: And had to rush around that spring and put barley down and all of it there and yeah but
DE: Right.
RC: Yeah we had some good times with them.
DE: I think that’s smashing unless there’s anything else you can think of.
RC: No.
DE: Might be of interest that’s a wonderful interview thank you very much.
RC: No it all happened in such a short time. Something happens even nowadays and it reminds you then of something, oh yeah I remember a similar thing happening in you know and I’m glad I can still, my wife wouldn’t think so like but I think my memory is pretty good. [laughs]
DE: I think so too, yeah.
RC: You’ve got to remember what you’ve got to remember when the wife’s around [laughs]. Yeah no but she would, she said if she’d come with me today she said all she would be able to say was that she lived at Metheringham and they built that aerodrome. We are going actually, probably go Saturday anyway. Never been to their to their -
DE: Oh. The Visitor Centre.
RC: The Visitor Centre. We always say we’re going but never get there. Yeah but yeah I’ve seen it all happen. Saw Scampton when it was all being built. About 1936 when they started to rebuild that and I’m told that in the First World War it was more where the showground is.
DE: I think that’s right yeah.
RC: All that way so I don’t know. I used to be, I used to play golf with the flight engineer off the Vulcans.
DE: Ahum.
RC: He’s dead now. A chap from Hykeham and he said that they used to go on these with the Americans on these bombing,
DE: Exercises.
RC: Exercises and the Vulcans used to go out tops every time like, you know. They reckoned they were brilliant aircraft. And when they come back from America when they came back from abroad with them they had to go through like you would if you were on a flight, you had to go through customs and whatnot but they used, I think he said they used to come back through Grimsby and so Waddington would tell Grimsby that they’d got aircraft coming back from you know and used to tell them time of arrival, you know and John said if we’d get up to forty thousand feet he said and you got a good back wind he said with the Vulcans he said we can knock an hour off easily. That’s what he said. From America. And he said some of the lads used to, he wasn’t a big drinker John wasn’t but he said you had to back a whisky and what not and what’s the name would come and say you’ve got a plane coming back from America something and oh they’re in, they’ve been, they’ve gone home ages. [unclear] Yeah. Them Vulcans could really move.
DE: Yeah.
RC: If they kept to forty thousand he said. Yeah
DE: Smashing that’s great thank you ever so much.
RC: You’re welcome.

Citation

Dan Ellin, “Interview with Rob Carter,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed September 22, 2019, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/20.

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